‘Foggy Oak Morning’ by Karen Asherah

‘Foggy Oak Morning’ by Karen Asherah, is another example of the local scenery that I miss while not taking a bus or walking. I drove past this scene for years on my way to work outside of San Martin without ever bothering to take a look at it. This happy tree is a native valley oak, Quercus lobata, like those that had been common throughout the Santa Clara Valley until only about two centuries ago. It is not exactly the sort of shade tree that everyone wants in a compact suburban garden, but is grand enough for large spaces like parks.

Mature specimens may not seem to get as tall as oaks in the Appalachian Mountains, but are actually the largest oaks in North America, and live more than five centuries. The tallest trees are mostly less than seventy feet tall, but can get taller. Trunks of the oldest trees are commonly six feet wide or wider. The distinctively and uniformly furrowed bark is as classically ‘oakish’ as the rounded prominent lobes of the deciduous leaves, and the sculpturally irregular branch structure. Odd stem galls, commonly known as ‘oak apples’, are home to the larvae of tiny wasps that rely on valley oaks for everything they need. Incidentally, Paso Robles, or ‘El Paso de los Robles’ is named for the valley oaks in the area, which Spanish immigrants thought resembled the ‘robles’, the European oaks that inhabit Spain.

More information about ‘Foggy Oak Morning’ can be found at the website of Karen Asherah at karenasherah.com.

4 thoughts on “Valley Oak

  1. These have a completely different architecture than red, white, pin and other oaks. The look more like oaks you see in England. Interesting that tidbit about Paso Robles. I was there last July and had no idea.

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    1. Valley oak is a species of white oak, and some of us know it simply as white oak, since it is the only white oak that is native here. Oregon white oak is similar, but smaller.

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      1. Valley oak could get as grand in other similar climates after a few centuries. It was not likely exported soon after Spanish explorers arrived here, so the oldest in other regions are only about middle aged now.

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