Monday, February 27, 2012

Plant: Oaks and acorns.................

Much before arriving to the USA, while reading fairy tales as a kid, when coming across the word 'giant oak tree' I had dreamt of seeing one in real. In India oak don't grow, so my wish remained unfulfilled for almost two decades. To my great delight, in California I saw many new interesting plants. Sycamore, sweetgum, silk-floss, magnolia, palms, carrotwood, weeping fig, ficus, olive, Brazil pepper, pine, cedar, cypress, eucalyptus and many more. But, oak remained elusive. Then one day, I spotted a Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)...  
Cross mark on a live oak in Whiting ranch...

.......and a Cork oak (Quercus suber) in my neighborhood.....the suberin-rich bark of immense economical use.......

the ubiquitous scrub oak.......this variety of oak known as 'Chaparro' in Spanish gave the name chaparral, characteristic of South California...


But, I was not quite satisfied, perhaps I was wishing to see a colossal Valley Oak (Quercus lobata). The other day, as I was walking in a park adjacent to the Upper Newport Bay, I saw these tender, lobed leaves on a tree. I instantly recognized that its a Valley oak, though its yet to bear acorns or assume its full size.

Black oak in Mount Laguna recreational preserve..............



Up there, acorns hang pretty...of so many varieties..
cork oak......

Scrub oak.......




Native Indians used acorns as food...even now-a-days foragers make flour of the acorns...
However, one should me aware that the acorns are too rich in tannic acid, which must be removed by repeated leaching in water...before consumption...

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