Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Atascadero Giants

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I drive by this tree all the time - a California white oak a.k.a. valley oak (Q. lobata) - on my way to visit customers. Yes that's my baseball cap to show scale.  And even though I have a very large melon (both literally and figuratively)... that's still a stout tree.

Here's "the rest of the story..."
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This giant has seen better days.  What a monster it must have been!  Imagine the generations of people and wildlife she fed and sustained!

Here's another one:
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Found this one at a park while on a stroll between soccer tournament games last fall (yes that's how behind I am on posting).  Another California white oak.  I'm not sure how to measure dbh (diameter at breast height, the standard method foresters use for measuring girth) - immediately behind the tree is a (mostly dry) creek that drops down about 5ft.  Dbh on the creek side of the tree is at root level for the upper side.  To measure dbh of the upper side I'd need a step ladder when I get around to the creek side.

Any way you slice it, the diameter is more than 6 feet.  Heck, the branch has a diameter most oak trees would envy!  (It also has some serious cantilevering that Frank Lloyd Wright would envy... can you imagine what that branch weighs?)

I'm starting to "collect" these California white oak giants in a mental list while I'm out and about on sales calls.  It's fun because here in Los Osos, CA our coast live oaks (Q. agrifolia) - the only oak species you see until you go about 7.83 miles inland - come in three varieties:  Stunted, puny and wee.

That's because our weather comes in three varieties:  foggy, chilly and cool.  It rarely gets above 80 and generally doesn't get much above 70... and the warmer it is the foggier the mornings and evenings are.  Perfect for me since I'm allergic to heat, apparently not great for producing massive oak trees.  On a summer day when driving Hwy 41 from Morro Bay to Atascadero 5 miles could mean 30 degrees in temperature. What a difference that 30 degrees makes in oak growth!

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