Friday, August 2, 2013

Flora of Eagle Rock: Coast Live Oak, or Quercus agrifolia

Coast Live Oak on Mt. Royal, near Hill

The Coast Live Oak, or Quercus agrifolia, is native to California.  More specifically, it's native to a region known as the California Floristic Province, which Wikipedia describes as "a floristic province with a Mediterranean climate located on the Pacific Coast of North America with a distinctive flora that bears similarities to floras found in other regions experiencing a winter rainfall, summer drought climate like the Mediterranean Basin."

You can usually identify the tree by the bark, which I can best describe as being in high relief, with a deeply craggy, almost stony look to it.  The leaves are relatively small, roundish, and dull (i.e., not glossy).

Detail of leaves.

The genus name, Quercus, is simply Latin for "oak."  Interestingly, the oak genus is native to North America -- though the oak became the national tree of, among other places, Germany, England, Poland, and Serbia.  Apparently, Congress also designated the oak as our national tree in 2004.  I don't think that got much press.

The Spanish names for the Coast Live Oak are encino(a) and encinitas ("little oaks").   And that's where the names for Encino and Encinitas came from.