Fire mimicry results from Mill Valley and Los Altos, CA

8 03 2018

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The first two photo sets above are of an oak in Mill Valley, CA that I began treating 5 years ago using fire mimicry. This oak has made significant improvement, as was already documented two years ago here.

The photo sets below are of three coast live oaks, and two coast redwood trees first treated with fire mimicry last year (2017). The first of the series shows a young coast live oak that has lost some leaf density in its canopy. This is an atypical result which may be corrected with further treatments. The other photos sets show an ancient, Native American-era coast live oak that is showing significant improvement in canopy density in just one year. Another mature coast live oak, despite having a major limb removed, is showing slight improvement. And two coast redwood trees are also showing slight improvement in just one year.

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Portola Valley oaks respond quickly to fire mimicry

1 03 2018
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Culturally-modified, Native American-era oak showing rapid improvement after fire mimicry.

Last February (2017) I treated and photographed 25 coast live oaks in Portola Valley using fire mimicry practices. A couple days ago I revisited the site and re-photographed the oaks to assess their response. The results show noticeable improvements in the density and greenness of the canopies of most of the treated oaks in just one year. This is becoming a common finding in many of the case studies – that the positive response of the oaks to fire mimicry appears to be rapid.

These results are part of a significant body of evidence showing that oaks and other trees can be brought back to health using fairly simple methods that mimic the effects of fire. If you care to learn more about these methods, please enroll in my upcoming course, “Sudden Oak Life: The Science and Practice of Forest Restoration”.

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Oaks in Atherton, CA respond nicely to fire mimicry

29 01 2018

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I’ll let these photos tell the story of how coast live oaks respond to fire mimicry treatments.

I should note that the last oak in this series is infected with a stem canker disease, probably Sudden Oak Death, yet it still seems to be improving slightly.

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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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Fire mimicry is improving the health of oaks in Redwood City, CA

22 11 2017

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Today I would like to show you the progress of some oaks that were treated with fire mimicry starting in 2013. Previous years’ results with the same trees are shown here and here. As can be seen in these photos, most of the oaks are continuing to show a strong and in some cases a dramatic response to the treatments, including the last tree in the series which is a Native American era heritage oak. The photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!

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Five year results of fire mimicry on oaks in Hillsborough, CA

24 04 2017

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Last week I inspected several coast live oaks that have received three fire mimicry treatments over the past five years. A couple of these oaks have bleeding stem cankers (probably Sudden Oak Death) that have been treated surgically as well. It will be a few more years before I know if the diseased oaks have recovered, but in the meantime these and the other uninfected oaks appear to be doing fairly well.

A couple of the oaks have lost a few limbs in the storms this past year, but are otherwise healthy. I should add that the wet winter has played some role in the improved canopies, however, results from these same oaks in prior years (2013, 2015) indicate noticeable improvement even under severe drought conditions.

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Lebanese cedar trees in Los Altos, CA improving with fire mimicry

8 04 2017

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Six years ago I was approached by a property owner in Los Altos, CA who had two large Lebanese cedar trees, one of which was not doing well. He had been advised by another tree expert to remove the sick cedar. This cedar has some sort of bleeding stem infection at the base and a fairly thin canopy. Rather than removing it, the owner called me to assess the problem. I told him frankly that I had no experience treating Lebanese cedars, but that it may be worth a trying the fire mimicry treatments I had been using to improve the health of oaks and other trees. He decided to proceed with the treatments. I applied a mineral poultice to the base of the sick cedar and amended the soils with an alkaline-rich blend of minerals and compost tea to both the sick cedar and the adjacent healthier cedar. I have repeated these treatments three times in the past 6 years. In just a few years there was noticeable improvement in the cedars. On Wednesday I checked on these trees again and found that both have continued to improve. Before-and-after photos of the two cedars are shown above and below.

There are many sick trees that some tree experts say there is no recourse other than to remove them. While this may be the only option is some cases, I’m now convinced that it is often not necessary to remove a sick tree. There are any number of techniques for saving trees that conventional tree experts are not using, such as soil fertilization, removal of mosses and lichens, poultice application to the trunks, and surgical removal of infections, and cauterization of wounds. Together, these techniques can make the difference between removing a tree and saving a tree!

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