a type of lightly forested grassland … maintained historically through wildfires set by lightning or humans, grazing, low precipitation, and/or poor soil
Among hardwood trees, oaks are uniquely resistant to fire. … The two principal fuels of an oak savanna fire are grasses and oak leaves. Oak leaves contain flammable chemicals; in addition, oak leaves remain in curled positions on the forest floor, so that fire moves readily from one leaf to another.
Intact oak savannas are now one of the rarest plant communities on earth.
Most oaks of full tree size are more than one hundred years old. Few saplings survive because grazing cattle decimate them.
In San Diego County many coast live oak occur along small arroyos in the coastal region. In the portion of the county inland from the coast, coast live oaks occur on the margins of large valleys, on north-facing slopes and filling smaller alluvial valleys. In some of the foothill areas, Engelmann oak occurs on rolling hilltops as well as mixing in with coast live oak. Farther inland, above 3,500 to 4,000 feet, the California black oak becomes a common species. In the higher mountains, the canyon live oak also grows. At the time of pre-settlement of San Diego by Europeans, it is estimated that there were roughly 80,500 acres of open oak stands on rolling hills and interior mesas.
Coast live oaks can be identified by their dark green, curled-under leaves and long, pointed acorns.
Black oak is deciduous, has golden leaves in fall. Local Natives found them to be the best-tasting of acorns.
Engelmann oaks are easily identified by large, flat, oval leaves that are bluish-green.
Acorns are food for woodpeckers, jays, squirrels and deer. The trees also provide shelter and nesting areas for nuthatches, owls, swallows, and small animals.
Also common in open oak woodlands in the interior foothills are scrub oak, toyon, white sage, buckwheat, and fast-growing annuals, many of them, like wild oats, non-native.
… hears the first music of England in the fine patter of rain on the oak leaves
oak, Oake, Oke, OE ac, OE aecern, of the beech family
The Oaks of Albion is Blake.
We may identify here a sense of belonging which has more to do with location and with territory.
tree … measure of continuity and ownership … beyond the memory of anyone now living … that sense of place, of literal rootedness, which is one of the great themes of the English imagination
The great oak itself descended into the other world.
In an old English carol Jesus talks to a tree while still in his mother’s womb.
I was cut down, roots on end …
I was raised up, as a road …
I was all wet with blood
Peter Ackroyd 2002 Albion: the origins of the English imagination Chatto and Windham