In this article, we will be exploring the many wonders of the California Oaks. The native live oak is the only California native oak that is made to thrive and survive in the coastal environment. Although the California Oak is rare on the immediate shore, this kind of oak does well in mild winter and summer climates, as it is somewhat tolerant of sea salt that might wash ashore or be distributed by the wind. In the summer months, the coastal fog helps provide relief from the lack of rain and intense California summer heat.
Many California Oaks grace our land here at R2 Hillside, which we love to explore and admire. The Oak tree symbolized vitality and life to Native Californian tribal groups, including the Ohlone peoples who resided in the area. Oak trees provided one of the primary staples of their diet - acorns. The acorns of the California Oak acted as the center of creation myths for many indigenous communities, providing the essentials for life. Acorns are one of the most common plant foods found in archaeological sites throughout central California, as oaks have been an essential part of Californian life for thousands of years.
Over a dozen varieties of California Oaks can be found in the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can identify them by their branched trunks and height of 33-82 ft. They are extremely climbable trees and provide an abundance of shade in the hot summer months. However, many oaks are under severe threat due to pathogens and other fungus that lead to a phenomenon known as sudden oak death. This disease impacts a variety of oak trees but most notably the California Bay Laurel. You can spot a sick tree by noticing lack of leaf growth and vibrancy that can eventually lead to the loss of an entire tree.
In order to protect these trees, many local jurisdictions have implemented laws around removing them. These trees are truly one of a kind, so be sure to keep an eye out for them on your next visit with us!