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Plant Focus

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A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

An Introduction to California’s Oak Diversity

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Pamela C. Muick

Published May 2019 in International Oaks No. 30: 37–44.

Abstract

California’s oaks are fascinating, diverse and beautiful. These fine trees and hardy shrubs define California landscapes and inhabit millions of acres from the southern San Diego border to the northern Siskiyous, from the Pacific Coast across the Central Valley into the foothills, valleys and canyons of the Sierra Nevada.
Eight of California’s tree oaks are described, accompanied by images displaying their unique, defining physical characteristics, habitat preferences and natural history. These include members of three sections: section Lobatae (Red/Black Oaks): Q. kelloggii (black oak), Q. agrifolia (coast live oak), and Q. wislizeni (interior live oak); section Protobalanus (the Intermediate or Golden Oaks): Q. chrysolepis (canyon live oak); and section Quercus (White Oaks) Q. douglasii (blue oak), Q. engelmannii (Engelmann oak), Q. garryana (Oregon oak /Garry oak), and Q. lobata (valley oak).
California’s oak landscapes have endured centuries of cutting, conversion, degradation and loss. Recognizing this, a statewide oak-habitat restoration ethic has emerged. One example of a successful restoration project is described in the conclusion.

Keywords

Quercus agrifolia, Quercus chrysolepis, Quercus douglasii, Quercus engelmannii, Quercus garryana, Quercus kelloggii, Quercus lobata, Quercus wislizeni

References

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Muir, John. 1912. The Yosemite. New York, NY: The Century Co. 

Ortiz, B. 2008. Contemporary California Indians, Oaks, and Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum). In Proceedings of the Sixth California Oak Symposium: Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Opportunities. General Technical Report PSW-GTR-217, edited by A. Merenlender, D. McCreary, and K.L. Purcell, pp. 39-56. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station.

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