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Garry Oak
Mature Garry Oak
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Section: Quercus
Species: Q. garryana
Binomial name
Quercus garryana
Douglas ex Hook.

The Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), also known as Oregon White Oak or Oregon Oak, has a range from southern California to extreme southwestern British Columbia, particularly southeastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent Gulf Islands. It grows from sea level to 210 m altitude in the northern part of its range, and at 300-1800 m in the south of the range in California. The tree is named after Nicholas Garry, deputy governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1822-35.

Contents

Varieties

A Garry oak grove
Garry oak leaves

There are three varieties:

  • Quercus garryana var. garryana – tree to 20 (30) m. British Columbia south along the Cascades to the California Coast Ranges.
  • Quercus garryana var. breweri – shrub to 5 m; leaves velvety underneath. Siskiyou Mountains.
  • Quercus garryana var. semota – shrub to 5 m; leaves not velvety underneath. Sierra Nevada.

Growth characteristics

It is a drought-tolerant tree, typically of medium height, growing slowly to around 20m (occasionally as high as 30m) or as a shrub to 3-5 m tall. It has the characteristic oval profile of other oaks when solitary, but is also known to grow in groves close enough together that crowns may form a canopy. The leaves are deciduous, 5-15 cm long and 2-8 cm broad, with 3-7 deep lobes on each side. The flowers are catkins, the fruit a small acorn 2-3 cm (rarely 4 cm) long and 1.5-2 cm broad, with shallow, scaly cups.

The Oregon White Oak is commonly found in the Willamette Valley hosting the mistletoe Phoradendron flavescens. It is also commonly found hosting a green or yellow ball of up to 5 cm in size, attached to the underside of some of the leaves. This abnormal growth (a gall) is formed by the oak around a colony of wormlike larvae belonging to one of several species of tiny wasps. The most common species responsible for these galls is Cynips maculipennis. The Garry oak is the only known foodplant of Bucculatrix zophopasta caterpillars.

History and uses

Gall on Garry oak, Sonoma County

Before the European settlers came into the Willamette Valley, the oaks were mostly open-grown individual trees due to the burning practices of the native Calapuya people (wildfires are almost unknown in the Willamette Valley). Since the settlers did not continue this practice, the intervening land was soon covered with seedling oaks (called "scrub oaks" by the settlers) which grew vertically and formed a closed canopy. Remnants of the old open-grown oaks are still found in these closed oak stands.

Although the wood has a beautiful grain, it is difficult to season without warping and therefore the Garry Oak has not historically been regarded as having any commercial value and is frequently destroyed as land is cleared for development. However, Garry Oaks and their ecosystems are the focus of conservation efforts, including in communities such as Oak Bay, British Columbia, which is named after the tree, and Corvallis, Oregon.[1] Moreover, recently the wood, which is similar to that of other white oaks, has been used experimentally in Oregon for creating casks in which to age wine.

References and notes

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Cited references

  1. ^ Barnes, Marc (November 2003). "Bald Hill Oak Restoration". Oregon Oak Communities Working Group. http://www.oregonoaks.org/documents/baldhill.shtml. Retrieved 2006-09-26.  

General references


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