Quercus agrifolia, Coast Live Oak
Quercus agrifolia, Coast Live Oak, flowers. These are the male catkins.
Quercus agrifolia, Coast Live Oak, with gray tree squirrel
Quercus agrifolia, woodpecker on coast live oak
Quercus agrifolia, coast live oak
Quercus agrifolia, Coast Live Oak, acorns provide food for lots of birds and other wildlife.
Rhamnus californica, and Artemisia douglasii under Quercus agrifolia, Coast live oak
White breasted nuthatches nest in holes and they hunt for food in the bark of Quercus agrifolia, Coast Live Oak.
Quercus agrifolia, Coast live oaks, in our demonstration garden at the Santa Margarita nursery.
This California oak tree has dark green holly-like leaves and is native
to the coast ranges of California. This, like most of the other oaks is
a climax species and needs a little protection and loving care for the
first few years of life. Now that means you need to put some decent
mulch around each tree and give the tree a watering with hose or
sprinkler every week or two for the first couple of summers, OR, plant
the little oak trees under a cover plant like shrub coyote bush
(Baccharis pilularis), buckwheat(Eriogonum fasciculatum), Artemisia
californica, toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) or coffeeberry (Rhamnus
californica). Often the planting under the right bush results in more
and better growth than planting little (dead) soldiers in a row. NO
fertilizers, amendments or tubes folks, it is much more important for
native oaks to find the right spot to plant them and then totally
control the weeds.
Now weed control is not weed eating(thats what cows do), it means total
control with herbicides. Now I know some of you do not want to control
the weeds this way, and if you have one tree and a small yard in
downtown Los Angeles, you can hand pull(and patch the pull with gorilla
hair mulch), but for most of you herbicides are much better for the
plants and wildlife. Weed pulling favors the weeds, messes with the
roots of the oaks, and probably kills as many critters as the sprays
do. Weedeating is like scraping the scab off of a wound, the
scab(native leaf litter) is gone, but the wound is still there. Use the
herbicides intelligently and read and follow the directions! Coast Live
Oak is a picturesque tree and is an outstanding bird plant.
Coast Live Oak is a food plant for the beautiful California Sister
butterfly. We had at least four families of Bullock's Orioles with
their flashy orange & black feathers make their nests in these
oaks. This is the backbone of a garden or plant community as everything
else seems to live off of it, or under it. Where it grows the whole
microclimate changes. Plant in 'groves' or with Arctostaphylos, Pinus,
or Ceanothus. Other good companion plants for Quercus agrifolia, to
name a few, are Salvia mellifera, Trichostema lanatum, Keckiella
cordifolia, and Eriogonum fasciculatum. We lost some Coast Live Oaks in
the ground in the freeze of 1990. They seem to be hardy to about -4.
Their structure will handle only about 6 inches of snow at a time
without major damage. (They have a rather closed limb structure that
allows the snow to build up.) Coast live oak will go deciduous if it is
under extreme drought stress. A lot of the trees in the interior of
Arroyo Grande defoliated during our drought from 83-90. Most came back
fine. I would have no problems in many climates with this tree. The
interior form of this is native on the nursery site. They are somewhere
around 275 years old. (I had some of the drought stressed limbs trimmed
a few years ago and counted rings. I lost count at 200+.)
Now the Sudden Oak Death problem. This disease is similar to smallpox
in humans, except some of the trees seem to be immune. It only seems to
occur in cool coastal (summer fog) areasof Northern California and
Oregon. We know that as little as 5% weeds or nitrogen pollution from
cars can alter the immune system in an entire forest. Most of the oaks
will not tolerate excess watering or fertilizer. Some of the locations
of SOD are close to parks and trails. Other areas seem to be a little
too consistent with pot growing areas. If you live in an area where SOD
occurs, be very aggressive with your weed control, limit as many human
inputs as possible near the tree. Plant native plants that live with
the tree in nature. Particularly plant plants that historically were
native in your area under oak trees. Spring water your new plants only,
no summer water.
DO NOT WATER MATURE OAKS!
to plant under Oaks.