Coast live oaks responding to fire mimicry

22 06 2009

The use of repeat photography to document temporal changes in trees and landscapes was one of the many fine techniques I learned from my PhD advisor Prof. Tom Veblen. He taught me the importance of replicating details such the lens focal length, sky conditions, and time of day. My photos don’t always live up to his standards, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Today I would like to show repeat photographs for several coast live oak trees that have been undergoing fire mimicry treatments for exactly four years. Much of the credit for these results should go to Demetrios Sgouros, Leith Carstarphen, and Daniel Brooke who were among the first tree care specialists to recognize the utility of fire mimicry techniques in helping the many sick oaks here in California.
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Readers can judge for themselves whether or not the fire mimicry techniques are helping these oaks, but it sure appears to me and to the owners of the trees that they are making a nice recovery. Note, however, case number 20041129.1 (below) which is a coast live oak that is badly infected with sudden oak death disease. While it is showing some improvement the addition of a new garage next to this tree seems to have had an impact on its recovery. In a previous post I documented the demise of a nearby coast live oak that was also both infected with sudden oak death and impacted by construction. Hopefully this oak will not incur a similar fate.

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2 responses

30 07 2009
Nancy Morita

What sorts of techniques comprise “fire mimicry”? Sounds promising.

30 07 2009
Lee Klinger

Fire mimicry involves a suite of techniques aimed at recreating conditions of forests and soils as if they were being managed by fire, only without the smoke and flames. The techniques include clearing, pruning, and powerwashing, along with amendments of lime sprays, soil minerals, compost, compost tea, and mulch. Details of the science of fire mimicry including evidence of efficacy can be found here.

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