Coast Live Oak
Native to coastal California
Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Coast live oaks tend to grow between 20 and 70 feet tall. They have full canopy crowns that make them excellent trees for urban planting. These trees have small, spiny, ovular, dark green leaves.
At least 12 different indigenous American groups have relied on coast live oaks as a major food source. Their acorns can be stored for up to one year and pounded into a flour to make cakes and breads. Additionally, the powder can be mixed with warm water to make a coffee-like beverage.
Coast live oaks have been used medicinally as a hemostat (stop bleeding) and an antiseptic.
Fossils of this oak have been found and estimated to be 20 million years old! This means they have existed about 14 million years longer than humans, but missed the dinosaurs by about 40 million years.
Coast live oak's thick outer bark protects their inner tissue from infrequent fires. This means even if occasionally burned, the trees will live. Some studies show that fire actually germinates the trees' seeds! Buried acorns have been known to sprout after a fire.
Coast live oaks are cultivated and planted as part of the Truckee Meadows' urban tree canopy.
“Ethnobiology of Southern California Plants” by Dr. Kevin Curran.
Cal Poly Lands: Coast Live Oak Woodlands
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