Black Oak's Blog

398px-Sequoia_sempervirens_BigSurThe Tree of the Week (TOTW) this week is the Coast Redwood. An easy to species to love, the tallest trees in the world (taller than the statue of liberty), their latin name is Sequoia sempervirens, and grow naturally in a 450-mile strip along the Western Coast, from southern Oregon to central California.

One of the amazing things about the Coast Redwood is the size of their cone, for a tree so big, they are only 1 inch long! And the seeds themselves are the size of a tomato's.


Some more great info on the Coast Redwood from the California State Parks website:

Coast redwoods range from southern Oregon to central California, extending not more than fifty miles inland- only as far as the coastal climate has its influence. Fog plays a vital role in the survival of these trees, protecting them from the summer drought conditions typical of this area. They also need abundant winter rain and moderate year round temperatures. In ideal conditions a coast redwood can grow 2-3 feet in height annually, but when the trees are stressed from lack of moisture and sunlight they may grow as little as one inch per year.

Because these trees are so tall, the treetop needles are exposed to more dry heat than the needles of branches in the dense canopy below. To compensate for this, redwoods grow treetop needles with tight spikes that conserve moisture, due to little evaporative surface. The lower branches, on the other hand, produce flat needles in order to catch additional light through the thick canopy of branches. 

These trees have shallow root systems that extend over one hundred feet from the base, intertwining with the roots of other redwoods. This increases their stability during strong winds and floods. 

Redwoods are naturally resistant to insects, fungi, and fire because they are high in tannin and do not produce resin or pitch. Their thick, reddish, pithy bark also provides protection and insulation for the tree. Even a downed tree can survive The blackened hollows you will see when you walk through the grove were caused by a fire in 1926, and are a testament to the trees' remarkable ability to survive.

Redwood trees flower during the wet and rainy months of December and January. They produce cones that mature the next fall. Redwood cones are about an inch long and they produce tiny seeds, about the same size as a tomato seed. While each tree can produce 100,000 seeds annually, the germination rate is very low. Most redwoods grow more successfully from sprouts that form around the base of a tree, utilizing the nutrients and root system of a mature tree. When the parent tree dies, a new generation of trees rise, creating a circle of trees that are often called fairy rings.






Black Oak's Blog

Sonoma's Coastal TreesNational Geographic has an article describing the rich diversity of our Norther California coastal forests. The whole article isn't too long and worth a read. Click here.


When you think of the Northern California Coastal Forests, think big. This ecoregion is home to some of the largest trees on Earth, the redwoods. And on uplands where fire disturbance was once more common, a diversity of other big trees mix with the giant redwoods. These include Douglas fir, grand fir, western red hemlock, Sitka spruce, western red cedar, tanoak, bigleaf maple, California bay, and Port Orford cedar. Under these magnificent trees lies a rich understory of herbaceous plants, shrubs, treelets, ferns, and fungi. And within these forests, a great diversity of animal life includes bears, fishers, pine martens, and numerous warblers. The endangered marbled murrelet, a seabird, nests in mature forest canopies. Pacific giant salamanders and red-bellied newts scurry across the moist forest floor, while silver salmon and steelhead trout breed in coastal rivers and streams. Within the habitats created by ancient redwood trees, you can also find highly specialized beetles, spiders, millipedes, and freshwater mussels. One of the most famous residents of the Northern California Coastal Forests is the bright yellow-orange banana slug.



Black Oak's Blog

tree_blossomUC Davis has some great advice for the backyard orchard. They discuss what types of trees to select, how to care for them, chill factors and they even have a pdf frost quide.

Quick quote:

Selecting a quality tree and caring for it appropriately increases the chances for successful orcharding. This usually begins with a bareroot tree from a quality nursery. Most nurseries are retail nurseries and seasonally purchase their bareroot selections from major nurseries or propagators specializing in tree fruits. December to March is the bareroot season.

Trees are measured, sorted, and sold by caliper, a measurement in inches just above the bud union on the tree. Historically, orchardists have learned to avoid undersized (<3/8 inch) or oversized (>5/8 inch) caliper trees. Undersized trees may be inherently weak. Oversized trees may have tops largely imbalanced with the root system due to mechanical tree digging practices common to the industry. A large top and small root system taxes the tree’s ability to meet water and nutrient requirements of the top and sustain itself during periods of stress. A preponderance of large caliper trees can appear at chain and discount stores during the bareroot season.

You can find the full article here: The California Backyard Orchard





Black Oak's Blog

Cool website dedicated to cataloging the largest trees (of each species) in California.

From the Register of Big Trees:

The Largest Black Oak in California?"The General Sherman Giant Sequoia, growing in Sequoia National Park, brings fame to the state of California as the world's most massive living organism. With a height of 261 feet, circumference of 1024 inches and crown spread of 106 feet, it is the largest tree in the state. But by no means is it the only champion.

The National Register of Big Trees, a program of American Forests sponsored by The Davey Tree Expert Company, lists about 800 champion trees. Of these, more than 80 are located in California, making them state champions as well.

The California Register of Big Trees is a program of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Northern and Southern California Societies of American Foresters. It maintains records for the largest specimen of each native and naturalized tree species growing in California. The register seeks to recognize and sustain these living landmarks. Not all champions are literal giants like the General Sherman Giant Sequoia. The National Champion Smoke Tree, for example, is a mere 17 feet tall, with a crown spread of 12 feet and circumference of 48 inches.

The oldest living things also make their home in California. The intermountain bristlecone pines are believed to be more than 4,000 years old. They grow in a grove 11,000 feet above sea level in the Inyo National Forest, where the tallest is only 41 feet tall, with a crown spread of 48 feet and a circumference of 439 inches. These trees survive in a particularly hostile environment, where they face unpredictable wind and temperature changes on any given day.

Each California champion has its own history, its own story. Perhaps no one knows these stories better than the nominators of the champions. These people have a genuine interest in big trees that has led them to the forest depths, into arid deserts and to urban and residential areas. Champion trees can be found growing just about everywhere across the state. Trees are a valuable part of our environment. They help purify the air and water, protect watershed areas, prevent soil erosion, enhance wildlife habitats, increase property values and heighten awareness of spiritual values.

Champion trees also bring pride and recognition to the nominators, owners and to the tree itself. The California Register of Big Trees hopes to increase awareness of our valuable living assets and to encourage individuals to locate and nominate more champions."



Black Oak's Blog

We didn't feel this, but still pretty crazy that this was in our neck of the woods. We are use to dealing with 2+ small earthquakes due to the geo-thermal activity up here in Lake County, but hope to never see a 6+ in person.

From the Napa Valley Register:

6.0 quake in Humboldt County this afternoon

Residents of Northern California’s Humboldt County were rocked by a magnitude-6.0 earthquake Thursday, but officials said there were no immediate reports of major injury or damage from the second large temblor to hit the area within a month.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude-6.0 quake struck at 12:20 p.m. about 35 miles northwest of the community of Petrolia and nearly 50 miles west of Eureka. The shaking was felt within a 150-mile radius, as far north as southern Oregon and as far south as Sonoma County, according to the USGS Web site.



Black Oak's Blog

tree_rainWe've got more rain coming, but even as much as Sonoma, Napa & Lake has had recently, we are still below are average, so a couple of more inches will be welcomed.

From the Press Democrat,

Rainy weekend on tap

"Santa Rosa just dipped below 79 percent of normal," National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said Thursday. "You've got to play catch-up a little bit. You're about half an inch below," he said of rainfall for the year.

Forecasters predicted 1 to 2 inches of rain in low-lying valleys of Sonoma County by Saturday, with 3 or more inches of rain in the coastal hills.



Black Oak's Blog

It's nice to know that even if the rain seems unending, it is helping out the local reservoirs.


From the Press Democrat,

Lake Mendocino's water supply pool now full

Lake Mendocino, a crucial reservoir in the Sonoma County Water Agency's water supply system, completely filled its water supply pool Friday morning for the first time in three years.

The lake holds 68,400 acre-feet of water before it reaches into the flood pool, where the excess can be released into the Russian River by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control purposes.

It is something the Water Agency didn't expect even a month ago, before storms started in early January pelting the North Coast with much-need rainfall after three dry years.

“I never could predict the weather,” said Mike Thompson, the Water Agency's deputy chief engineer for flooding.

The lake and the Russian River is the sole source of water for agriculture and residents from Ukiah to Healdsburg and also stores water for the fall run of chinook salmon, which are on the federal threatened list.

Largely because of its low level the past two years, water conservation measures had been ordered in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties to store water for release during the fall for the chinook spawning run.

Although the Army Corps will be releasing water to minimize the threat of flooding downstream, on March 1 as the threat diminishes it will begin letting water encroach into the flood pool.

“We are hoping now for March rains, March rains generate runoff the corps is able to keep in the reservoir,” Thompson said. “This is great news, it's is great to have 100 percent of water supply capacity.”

By mid May, as the corps increases the amount of water allowed in the flood pool, Lake Mendocino could have as much as 111,000 acre-feet of water.

Lake Sonoma reached its water capacity, 245,000 acre-feet, on Jan. 25. It is the primary source of water for 600,000 Sonoma and Marin county residents.

State Certified
Our California
State License #


Client Login