Palo Alto oaks, pines, and redwoods thriving after fire mimicry

23 06 2022

Yesterday I checked on several coast live oaks, ponderosa pines, a coast redwood, and a southern magnolia in Palo Alto, CA that I’ve treated with fire mimicry in recent years. The work began at one site about 14 years ago and at the other site 6 years ago. The photos at the 14-year site were taken at different seasons (winter vs. summer), so they are not an optimal comparison. Also, there was considerable construction around the trees and some limb removal since the original photos were taken. Still, it appears that these trees are thriving after fire mimicry treatments. Enjoy!

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Ancestor oaks show modest improvement after 2 years of fire mimicry protocol

23 05 2022

For the past two years I have been applying fire mimicry treatments to a grove of Ancestor oaks, ancient (300+ yr old) trees that have been pollarded and otherwise tended in the past by the Ohlone People for acorn production and other uses. Today, I inspected these oaks and see that most have made a modest, but noticeable improvement in canopy density, despite the current drought conditions. Please note the final photo set, which shows a neighboring oak that was not treated.

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Long-term recovery of a coast redwood tree following construction damage of roots

13 04 2022

I’m often asked whether trees can withstand root amputation by construction activities. Generally, I’ve found that if the trees are tended with fire mimicry beforehand, there is a better chance of their survival. Above is an example of a redwood tree in Los Altos, CA that was treated with fire mimicry before and after construction damage. While the redwood suffered some canopy loss after construction, it has recovered and is now thriving!

Long-term response to fire mimicry of cedar trees in Los Altos, CA

13 04 2022

Eleven years ago I began fire mimicry treatments on two Lebanese cedar trees in Los Altos, CA. At the time the owner had been advised by a local arborist that the cedar tree shown in the above photo was diseased and should be removed. Fortunately the owner resisted cutting down the tree and contacted me. I proposed treating this cedar (above) and another nearby cedar (below) with fire mimicry. At the time I had mainly been treating oaks and did not know if the cedars would respond in the same way. I’m happy to say that, after 11 years, the cedars are thriving!

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Minor stem canker surgery on an ancient coast live oak in Atherton, CA

6 04 2022

Yesterday I did fire mimicry treatments and a minor stem canker surgery on an ancient coast live oak in Atherton, CA. The surgery went well and the prognosis for this oak is very good. Here are photos showing the various steps and tools used for the surgical procedure …

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Bay Area oaks maintain their response to fire mimicry for many years

26 03 2022

Here are various coast live oaks that have continued to respond to fire mimicry treatments over the course of 5, 8, and 10 years. Several have been affected by stem canker disease, probably Sudden Oak Death, but all have survived and most have improved in canopy density and lushness.

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Stem canker surgery on an Ohlone “ancestor” coast live oak

10 11 2021

Below is a time-lapse video of a stem canker surgery we did today on a pollarded, Ohlone “ancestor” coast live oak in Portola Valley, CA. Note the removal of diseased tissue with axes and power multi-tools, cauterization, and poultice application. This was followed by a limewash application to the trunk, as well as compost tea and alkaline-rich mineral amendments to the soils. Enjoy!

Diseased coast live oaks in Los Altos making a recovery

8 10 2021
Ancient Ohlone-tended coast live oak with a severe stem canker disease

I recently inspected four mature coast live oaks in Los Altos, CA that I first treated last year with fire mimicry. All four have stem canker disease (probably Sudden Oak Death), and the largest, a 300+ yrs old Ohlone-tended (pollarded) oak, is severely diseased. Stem canker surgeries involving canker removal with an axe and multi-tool, cauterization of the wound, and poultice application were done on all four oaks.

All four oaks are showing noticeable improvement in canopy health (greenness), and the surgeries, for the most part were successful, although there are small residual infections in two of the oaks that need to be treated. Otherwise, I’m calling this a win after just one year! Of course, I will continue to treat and monitor these oaks in future years.

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Happy Earth Day 2021! A hopeful message from the oaks …

22 04 2021

Happy Earth Day 2021 from Sudden Oak Life! Here are some coast live oaks that I inspected yesterday, 9 years after starting fire mimicry treatments. Several of the oaks were pruned two years ago, hence the differences in canopy structure. However, the canopy density and lushness has clearly improved in most cases.

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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!