Major stem canker surgery on an ancient coast live oak in Big Sur

21 09 2021

Today I performed a major stem canker surgery in an effort to save an Esselen-era (400+ years old) coast live oak in Big Sur. The process involved large and small axe work, power multi-tools, cauterization, and poultice. This is part of a larger protocol called fire mimicry, which includes removal of woody understory, fertilization of soils with alkaline-rich minerals + compost tea, and application of limewash to the trunk. Here’s the link to a time-lapse video of today’s surgery:

Successful stem canker surgery on coast live oak in Kentfield, CA

27 06 2021
Infected coast live oak (Oct. 16, 2019)

Here is a sick coast live oak with a stem canker infection (probably Sudden Oak Death). At that time a surgical procedure was performed to remove and cauterize the canker (see original post here). After one and a half years this oak has made a significant recovery, both in the healing of the surgical wound and in the lushness of the canopy. Note that there is no further bleeding or other symptoms of stem canker infection. More evidence for the efficacy of fire mimicry.

Positive response of oaks to fire mimicry seen in just one year

16 06 2021

Last year we treated several canyon live oaks in Aptos, CA with fire mimicry. Here are the results …

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Update on stem canker surgery on coast live oak in Monterey, CA

15 06 2021

In June of 2018 I discovered two bleeding stem canker infections (possibly Sudden Oak Death) in an old coast live oak in Monterey, CA. I performed fire mimicry treatments on this tree, and surgically removed and cauterized the bleeding stem cankers. Below are photos showing the procedure and as well as the recovery of the wounds and canopy of the oak after three years. Enjoy!

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Despite the drought, sick coast live oaks in Salinas, CA respond to fire mimicry

31 05 2021

Last year on this date I first treated several ailing coast live oaks with a fire mimicry protocol. To be honest, I was not optimistic about being able to help these oaks, which had been in decline for several years. Still, the owner wanted to try and I’m sure happy that he did. Today I inspected and re-photographed the oaks and, despite the different light conditions, found they have clearly shown improvement in canopy density and lushness. Note that the final oak in this series is UNTREATED.

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More coast live oaks in Piedmont, CA respond to fire mimicry

29 05 2021

Here are some other coast live oaks in Piedmont, CA, all of which have responded to fire mimicry treatments in just one year.

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Coast live oaks and coast redwood in Piedmont, CA respond to fire mimicry

25 05 2021

Yesterday I inspected and re-photographed several ailing coast live oaks and a coast redwood in Piedmont, CA that were treated with fire mimicry one year ago. The photos indicate that all of the trees show clear improvement in canopy density and lushness. Thank you for taking notice of, and sharing, these important results!

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Even under drought conditions coast live oaks respond to fire mimicry

23 05 2021

Last year fire mimicry treatments were applied to several coast live oaks in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Watsonville. Despite the very dry rainy season and current drought conditions, these oaks are showing noticeable improvement in their canopy density after just one year. The soil fertilization treatments involved very little nitrogen or phosphorus and focused, instead, on amendments with alkaline-rich mineral nutrients. This is more evidence that fire mimicry is viable approach to improving and maintaining oaks health.

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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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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