Friday, July 26, 2013

Now THAT'S what I call a burl

California white (aka valley) oak (Quercus lobata), at the entrance to a vineyard near Atascadero, CA.  A giant tree, with a serious burl.

(Click to enlarge)

No, the tree is not growing horizontally (although many oaks in California do seem to).  I took the photo on my phone in portrait format, pivoted it before saving the file to my computer, but &^%#$@*&^@ blogger only wants to display it horizontally.  Doh.

No matter how you view it, it's pretty dang cool.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The FAST GROWING giant oaks of the Congaree

Thanks once again to Walter for this great link to a Native Plant Society field trip report on the giant trees of Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

The only problem with these cool links is that they keep adding new places to my list of places I must visit before I croak.  Sadly, the the length of the list of places I need to visit keeps growing, while the number of years before I get out of the proverbial canoe continues to diminish.  Oh well, c'est la vie (or, for the glass-half-empty types out there, c'est la mort).

Pulling a quote from the linked page:

The second tallest tree is of all things an oak! The incomparable cherrybark
oak (Quercus pagoda) is one of the fastest growing, widest and tallest trees
in the east. Jess and Ed confirmed one to 160.2' tall, making it the 6th
hardwood species to join the "160 Club", joining tuliptree, sycamore, pignut
hickory, black locust, and white ash. If 160' tall wasn't enough, we found
one that measured 154' across! Folks, these trees are immense! I am baffled
by the sheer strength of the wood to hold a canopy so high and so wide
through so many hurricanes.

Utterly massive.  160ft tall with a 154ft crown spread.  Wow.  That monster shades nearly 1/2 acre (actually it's probably more than that, depending on the time of day, angle of incidence, and ... but I'm not smart enough to do that math, just a big enough tree geek to think of it).

And I know regular readers will have caught the money phrase (at least as far as I'm concerned):  cherrybark oak is one of the fastest growing trees in the east.

The widespread - and utterly erroneous - preconception of oaks as the quintessence of slow growth has kept people from planting them in the numbers that they should and must.  It's a preconception we must fight.

As a guy who grew up among the relative pygmy oaks of Minnesota and who now lives among the true pygmy oaks of the California central coast (the former due to a 12 day growing season, the latter due to coastal fog combined with sand dune soil), I would love to stand in the shade and glory of 160ft tall oaks.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I'm such a lucky guy...

... because I get PAID to talk to awesomely cool people like a founder of the San Diego Sustainable Living Institute.

Keep your eyes on these folks.  They will be doing - and growing - some incredible things in the years ahead.

The Giants of Bialowieza Forest

Wow, the number of Oak Watch followers continues to grow despite my paltry output of late... thank you!  Or, perhaps, the number of Oak Watch followers continues to grow because of my paltry output of late.  Maybe if I stop writing altogether this will become the most read blog in the world!

Huge thank you to reader Walter for emailing a list of fascinating links.  I will pass them along to you one or two at a time. 

Travel to Poland, to be honest, has never been on my bucket list... until now.  Click here to visit the amazing Bialowieza Forest.  Incredible.

The oaks of Bialowieza - and we're talking about pedunculate/English/common oaks (Quercus robur) - are truly massive.  Quoting from the web site: 

In order to emphasize uniqueness of such trees the term CLASSICAL BIALOWIEZA OAK has been introduced. To bear this proud name an oak must meet the following criteria: the trunk's perimeter of such tree at the height of 130cm should be at least 550cm, the height of trunk up to the first branch should be at least 15 meters, the total trunk's height should exceed 25 meters and the tree's height should be at least 36 meters. While in the Forest there are thousands of oaks with monumental sizes, only 10-20 meet these criteria. I think that nowhere in Poland or even Europe there are such oaks like here, in the Bialowieza Forest. 

 For those of you keeping score at home 550cm in perimeter measured 130cm from the ground equates to about 5ft 8in in d.b.h. (diameter at breast height).  Holy cats.

So take a break this afternoon or evening and travel to Bialowieza Forest, at least via pixels.  The druid's Sistine Chapel.