A winter scene of Oak Trees in the Battle Ground area.
A trip through the Willamette Valley was a real eye opener to massive oak trees.
A Willamette Valley Oak.
"WILLAMETTE VALLEY OAK SAVANNA HABITAT
An oak savanna is grassland characterized by a scattered distribution of open-growth oak trees and small groves of oaks
By Lynda Boyer
Land surveys conducted by the General Land Office of the US Government in the 1850’s documented about 1 million acres of the Willamette Valley were prairie lands both upland and wetland and over 400,000 acres contained oak.
Evidence suggests that the valley prairies may have become established during a time when the climate was warmer and drier than today (Hansen
At present, the climate of the Willamette Valley is sufficiently cool and moist to support woody vegetation on most sites
Palynological studies indicate that the Willamette Valley has been dominated by oak savanna for more than 6,000 years. Since lighting fires are infrequent, this suggests that human-caused fires have maintained this sub-climax condition....
The Kalapuya Indians, the Willamette Valley’s native inhabitants, had substantial motivation to use fire in the landscape. The falls on the Willamette
River at Oregon City made most of the river inaccessible to salmon. TheKalapuya relied on the native plants of the prairie and game to provide their economy. In order to eliminate woody vegetation and maintain the open structure that facilitated this diverse resource base, frequent, low-intensity fires were set...."
So...when I moved to the
Glenwood Valley in 1970, I paid little attention to the scrubby oaks
growing on the breaks of the Klickitat River and the Goldendale Grade. I
had great admiration for their tenacity to grow out of a rock, while
twisting and turning themselves into a trunk with gnarly branches and
still capable of producing a nut. It was great firewood for holding a
fire all night.
In the 1980's the farms of Battle Ground began turning into one massive housing development and I mourned the loss of those huge Oak trees, but I was still somewhat oblivious to our oak trees.
However, in the last few years, as I have become more gnarly and twisted myself with age, I have gained a fascination with the Garry Oak, the only oak native to Washington State.
I had been pondering, what it must have been like when the Native Americans set fire to Camas Prairie. Then I pondered the thought that Camas roots and Oak trees often seem to occupy the same habitat. Not a "symbiotic relationship", but perhaps some type of relationship. Remember....I come from the area of Camas, Washington where the Camas root and Oak trees once grew in abundance. I know this Camas Prairie gets colder with frequent frosts, but is it possible big Garry Oak trees grew here at one time?
"OREGON WHITE OAK Also called GARRY OAK. Oregon White Oak was named after Nicholas Garry, a deputy governor for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
This species grows slowly to 80-100 feet (25-30m). It may live 250-500 years.
Oregon White Oak grows on dry, rocky slopes and in open savannahs. Many native oak prairies, and their associated ecosystem, have disappeared and continue to decline due to urban development, fire suppression and overgrazing. There is evidence that native people in the Willamette Valley burned the Oregon White Oak savannahs nearly every year in the late summer or early fall to prevent the encroachment of faster growing conifers....."
Along the southern
fringe of the Glenwood Valley are some tall, straight Oak trees.
Nothing like the Willamette Valley Oaks of course, but they are
respectable and some are even a bit majestic.
Then I began pondering,,,,, could I start an Oak Tree from the nut?
And then,..... I found out I am way behind on that idea.
Just about anything you wanted to know about...."FROM ACORNS TO OAKS".
Guess what he does?
He sprouts acorns!
He sprouts acorns!
"....There is but one species of oak native to Washington state, Oregon white oak or Garry oak (Quercus garryana). It grows west of the Cascades from Vancouver Island to California, but occurs east of the mountains only in Yakima and Klickitat counties… except for a fairly small population found between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, separated by 60 miles from their closest “cousins”. I don’t know how this outlying population came to be there; perhaps Native Americans transported acorns north many centuries ago. This northernmost population of oaks may be the hardiest of the species, and may do well in other areas of Central Washington.
I’ve been propagating seedlings from these impressive trees for several years now. I collect acorns in the fall, trying to collect enough before the Steller’s jays and weevils get them all...".
"Ed Book presents an 8x10 portfolio of 72 photographic images of the mixed woodlands of Garry Oak and Ponderosa Pine found in and on the rims and surrounding plateaus of the Klickitat River Canyon, northeast of the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state.
This forest puts on an autumn color display unrivaled anywhere else in Washington. The small, leathery, multi and irregular lobed oak leaves turn saturated yellow, orange, red, and magenta hues when the first cold clear nights of autumn arrive.
Repeated extended visits in various weather conditions were required to record the woodlands and canyon at their optimum.
These images provide a glimpse of how the oak habit adapts to the varying habitat, from steep walled canyon to rolling parklands of forest mixed with meadow."