Ancient Miwok-era oak and other trees in Novato, CA respond to fire mimicry

6 03 2021

The coast live oak above is about 5 feet in diameter and clearly dates from a time when the Coast Miwok Indians tended the land. The oak has obvious signs of being pollarded, with numerous lateral boles growing outward from a point about 4 feet above the base of the trunk. I suspect this tree is around 500 years old.

Two years ago we treated this oak and neighboring trees with fire mimicry, which involved clearing brush, pruning, removing moss and lichens from the base, fertilizing the soils, and applying a imewash to the trunk. Last year I returned to fertilize the soils again, reapply the limewash, and to surgically remove a stem canker infection (probably Sudden Oak Death) from the trunk of the large oak above. A few days ago I inspected the trees and found significant improvement in their health after only two years! Keep in mind that this past year this region has been in a significant drought. Seems these trees have something to say about taking an ecological/cultural approach to their care …

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Grandmother oak 4-year update

5 03 2021

Fours years ago we began fire mimicry treatments on an ancient, Ohlone-era coast live oak near Loma Mar, CA. Affectionately called Grandmother oak by the owners, she measures 17′ 8″ in circumference and is likely more than 500 years old. We started by clearing away the woody understory, removing nearby young firs and bays, and pruning off the dead lower limbs. Then we fertilized with compost tea and alkaline-rich minerals, and applied a limewash to the trunk. We repeated the fertilization treatments for two additional years. Above and below are photos showing how Grandmother oak has responded to care we gave her. She sure seems happier and more vibrant to me!