90522The valley oak of the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, and coastal valleys to the west, is the grandest oak of North America. Within the coastal half of that range, and extending down past San Diego, the coat live oak, Quercus agrifolia, is a nearly comparable second grandest. The biggest subjects may be as tall as seventy feet, and nearly as wide, with trunks wider than ten feet!

However, there is significant variability. Trees in forest situations do not get as big, and may stay lower than twenty five feet, with shrubby branch structure. While the biggest can get older than two centuries, smaller trees may not live half as long. The canopies of exposed solitary trees might reach the ground, while more social or sheltered trees are likely to shed lower growth with maturity.

Coast live oaks are typically pretty gnarly, and many have multiple flaring trunks. The dark evergreen leaves are only about an inch or two long, and half as wide, with bristly teeth on convex edges. The narrow inch long acorns can be messy. Roots are very sensitive to excavation and excessive irrigation. Sudden Oak Death Syndrome prevents new trees for getting planted in many regions.

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13 thoughts on “Coast Live Oak

    1. They are a different species. ‘Live oak’ is a generic term. I never saw a live oak when I was in Oklahoma, although I did see a few other compelling oaks. The blackjack oak is native to that region.

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      1. That looks more like what I would expect. I did not see it in Oklahoma, but was not looking for a live oak. I thought the blackjack oaks were weirdly rad.

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    1. It has been through a lot! It used to be on the edge of train tracks, and survived the excavation to remove the tracks, and the construction of the building behind it. The area around it is paved. I really do not know how it not only survived this long, but has also continued to grow healthily.

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