- (Public Value) UCANR: Protecting California's natural resources
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
I love to stroll under the shade of majestic Valley oak trees in the oak woodland riparian habitat along the Stanislaus River at Caswell State Park in Ripon. I visualize Lakisamni Yokut women (the indigenous people who lived in Stanislaus County area for millennia) as they gathered acorns.
Early humans built their homes, created tools, built shelters and ships from oak wood. Oak galls were used to make dyes, writing ink, and tan leather. Today we use its strong wood to construct furniture, flooring, cabinets, and wine barrels. If you like truffles, thank oak trees, since truffles have a close relation with the roots of oak trees. Truffles are almost impossible to grow. Instead, truffle farmers plant oak trees, hoping to create favorable conditions conducive to the growth of truffles.
- Valley oak (Quercus lobata) – One of California's iconic species, it is the largest oak tree found here, living up to 300 years. The Valley oak grows where there is a water table within reach of the roots, often near creeks and rivers. They grow quickly, reaching 20 feet in 5 years and up to 60 feet in 20 years. A deciduous tree, it's distinguished by deeply lobed shiny green leaves and long, narrow acorns.
- Interior live oak (Quercus wislizenii) – An evergreen tree, growing up to 25-80 feet tall, it is found in hilly or mountainous areas, near creeks and streams, living up to 200 years. It can produce two types of leaves at the same time, one with a serrated edge and the other with a smooth edge, and produces small, thin acorns.
- Blue oak (Quercus douglasii) – A deciduous tree found in the hot, dry foothills, it grows to be 20-60 feet tall with blue-green leaves which vary in size and shape. With a lifespan of 200-500 years, their acorns are fat and stubby.
Oaks tolerate fire due to their thick, furrowed bark and tough leathery leaves. During wildfires, the larger oaks in areas cleared of fuel may scorch, but rarely burn completely. Damaged trees will resprout from the root crown.
An oak tree can produce millions of acorns during its lifetime, but only one in 10,000 acorns grows up to be an oak tree. Acorns are highly nutritious, carbohydrate-rich, and were a diet staple of the Californian indigenous people. Mammals and birds who eat acorns include the Acorn woodpecker, Yellow-billed magpie, California ground squirrel, and Mule deer. However, acorns are toxic to dogs and horses.
The indigenous people called the California scrub jay the “gardener bird” because of its propensity for caching thousands of acorns and not eating all of them, which helped replenish and expand oak forests.
A favorite oak gall of mine is “jumping galls,” the size of poppy seeds, round with a dot in the center. Some years large numbers of them drop and litter the ground and sidewalks. The galls “jump” each time the larva moves inside. You can see this in action in this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VI7USm4J5I
Today, oak trees face many challenges. Disease, drought, and fire can all destroy oak seedlings. Young oaks are stepped on by grazing animals or run over by machinery. Full grown oaks are often damaged or killed when new homes, roads, stores, or businesses are built. Sudden Oak Death is a disease caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum,discovered in Mill Valley in 1995. Causing a rapid color change from green leaves to brown in infected oaks, it has killed thousands of live oak, black oak, tanoak, and Shreve oak in 14 California counties. Climate change is also putting pressure on oak trees.
To maintain a forest or woodland, each oak tree needs to produce just one replacement tree in its lifetime. You can help regenerate California oak habitat by caring for an acorn seedling and protecting it from harm while it grows into a mighty oak.
All photos by Denise Godbout-Avant unless otherwise noted./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
You can watch the class on our YouTube channel, http://ucanr.edu/youtube/ucmgstanislaus and follow along using a handout from our Classes and Workshops page https://ucanr.edu/sites/stancountymg/Classes/.
One of our volunteers, Denise Godbout-Avant, filmed a short video showing how much of our earth's water is fresh, and how much is available for people to use. This is a fascinating and eye-opening example you will not want to miss. Watch it here:
Where: On Zoom. You will receive a link the morning of the class.
When: Tuesday, June 29, 2021 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Register at: http://ucanr.edu/water-wise/2021
Instructors: Instructors Denise Godbout-Avant and Johnny Mullins
The recording will be posted to our YouTube channel at http://ucanr.edu/youtube/ucmgstanislaus
Native (Bee) Pollinators
Take a quiz on your knowledge of native bee pollinators, learn about the three types of pollinator nesting, and see examples of what types of plants pollinators prefer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOGDSNJJoh8&t=6s
Planting for Pollinators
Learn about the local native bee pollinators and hummingbirds you might see in your backyard, and what kind of plants they prefer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naL3BM5aP-s&t=5s
Butterflies in Your Garden
Find out how to have more butterflies in your garden, by learning which plants are required for butterflies to complete their lifecycle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHXSdtxicII&t=6s
Download the handouts from any of our classes by visiting our Classes and Workshops web page at https://ucanr.edu/sites/stancountymg/Classes/
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
Whenever a drought happens in California, most of us look for ways to conserve water in our gardens and home. However, with droughts becoming the norm, rather than the exception, practicing water sustainability needs to become a way of life.
How can we conserve water in our daily lives? Our gardens are a good place to start, since about half of urban water is used for outdoor irrigation. The following are some suggestions which can have an impact on the amount of water you use in your gardens.
Practice water-wise garden irrigation by changing sprayers to drip system whenever possible, since sprayers decreases the amount of water going to your plants due to evaporation. Water according to the season, reducing or eliminating watering during the cooler, wet winter months – investing in a water timer with a rain sensor can help with this. Water early in the morning or late in the day when temperatures are cooler. Check your irrigation system regularly to check for leaks, repairing or replacing as needed.
Plant water-wise plants that need little water once established. The above link will provide you with many suggestions. Another wonderful source of plant information is the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars: https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/arboretum-all-stars
There are ways to reduce our water use in our homes also, including having a water-efficient washing machine, dishwasher, shower and toilet, and not letting the faucet run while shaving, brushing our teeth, or washing our hands.
These are a few of the many ways we can make being water-wise a way of life in our gardens and homes. Every drop of water counts!
To learn more about our water and ways to use it wisely, join the UCCE Stanislaus County Master Gardeners on Tuesday, June 29th at 6:00pm on Zoom for our talk “Water-wise Tips for Your Garden and Home.” You can sign up at: http://ucanr.edu/water-wise/2021