Celebrating California Oaks

Californians love to brag about their trees. We will tell you that we have the tallest, most massive and the oldest trees in the world – the coast redwood, the Sequoia redwood growing in the midSierra and the bristlecone pine which is found in a small area of the White Mountains east of the Sierra.


In my view, we should save our bragging rights for our native oaks – the 20 species (40 if you count the hybrids). some of which only grow in our state. I give my vote to our coastal live oak. This evergreen oak is only found along the coast from Mendocino County to Baja California. The nutritious acorn was the staple food for the Chumash. The women ground the acorns in their stone mortars and rinsed out the bitter tannins in running water. (Now that I’ve found a source of acorn flour, I’m going to try my hand at baking acorn bread).


The coast live oak is the commonest tree species on our campus with three individuals distinguished by their size. One tree, 50 feet wide, spreads across the Life Center courtyard with a luxuriant canopy of small leaves; a second is located in the large lawn below Westview and Northview; and the third, the largest, is next to the Rose Garden with an 80-foot-wide canopy and a stout trunk measuring ten and half feet in circumference. Most often, the oaks are sprouted from an acorn buried by a scrub jay and then forgotten about.


Thank you, Jesus and Pedro for measuring the circumference of the three largest oaks!

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