Valley oak, Quercus lobata, and Coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia, which I featured here last week, are the two formerly prominent native oaks of the Santa Clara Valley. I do not know if valley oak is native to the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Santa Clara Valley. It should be; and I should know for certain. However, I am not convinced. It is a chaparral species, not a forest species. The several old specimens in the Santa Cruz Mountains are on roadsides and in other situations where they seem to have been planted intentionally. Yet, this region developed mostly after the Great Earthquake of 1906, and not much was here prior to that, but some of the valley oaks seem to be a few centuries old.
1. A different perspective of the same valley oak from last Saturday conceals major storm damage that is otherwise so prominent. This really is a grand tree, in a perfect situation.
2. Although this is not a good picture, and does not seem to show much, it demonstrates how this tree is squarely centered within this view from the old depot baggage platform.
3. From the opposite side, the trunk obscures the baggage platform. Was it planted there intentionally? If so, why was it not centered on the window or doorway of the old depot?
4. It is just coincidence that the tree is situated so ideally on the edge of an area that was formerly used for parking? It was already old when cars still had horses in front of them.
5. Valley oak is such a grand tree. As big and sculptural as this specimen is, it is perhaps a century or so younger than the other tree. It was still quite small and shrubby in 1906.
6. Even the leaves are distinguished. The leaves of the trees in my former neighborhood had rounder lobes and sinuses. I do not know if such traits are environmental or genetic.
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate: