Ancient Indian-era oaks respond to fire mimicry

2 12 2017

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Three years ago I treated several ancient, Indian-era oaks with fire mimicry. These oak have classic lapsed-pollard shapes, indicating they were culturally modified by the native people several hundred years ago. Every oak shown here (above an below) is over 200 years old, and possibly much older. The lapsed-pollard shape is evident by the multiple large boles branching from one location near the base of the trunk. Younger oaks of the same species growing nearby typically exhibit a dichotomous branching pattern, so the anomalous shapes of these older oaks is most likely an indication that they were culturally modified (pollarded) at a younger age by California native people. The present day forms of these trees show that the pollards have lapsed, that is, the trees are no longer being tended. Pollarding is a widely used modern tending practice in orchard trees, creating broad spreading canopies that maximize fruit or nut production.

In my mind, the ancient oaks shown here are Native Americans artifacts. These oaks provided the primary sustenance of the local tribes, acorn. Oak orchards were grown, tended, and shaped by the native people in ways that helped to sustain both themselves and the bountiful wildlife.

It’s nice to have a proven model for oak forest restoration. It is the model I and others are following. Please enjoy these results!

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Long-term response of oaks to fire mimicry

1 12 2017

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Another milestone! For 13 years these coast live oaks have been regularly tended with fire mimicry. These oaks are longest continuous case studies of fire mimicry in my records. Most of the work has been done by Leith Carstarphen following my recommended treatment plan.

Apart from one oak that was lost this past year due to slope failure, the photos (above and below) show significant improvement in the canopy density and vitality of the oaks. The healthy growth of the smaller trees in the foreground now partially obstructs the view of the canopies of two oaks. Still, the oaks continue to grow and thrive, despite the presence of disease (probably Sudden Oak Death) in some of them.

Previous years’ results for these oaks can be found here for 2016, here for 2015, and here for 2014.

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