Oak Trees

Oak Tree Life

Oaks all have acorns, nuts surrounded by wooden cups. In the Western United States, oak trees live in sunny places on rocky slopes and hills.

Native Americans would eat acorn mush after washing and grinding them to get rid of the bitter taste.

Valley oak tree at Indian Grinding Rock State Park, CA, March 2005

Squirrels are well-known for eating acorns, but not so well-known is the fact that they intelligently choose to either eat or store acorns. Some acorns start growing in the fall; the squirrels eat those first. They store the ones that won’t start growing until the spring, and they eat those during the winter.

Did you know that there is a squirrel bird? The acorn woodpecker, just like squirrels, collects acorns to eat during the winter.

Acorns are a good clue that a tree is an oak tree, but the leaves are unique too. The leaves of the oak tree usually have complicated shapes. They look like puzzle pieces.

A Quest for Oak Trees

Oak trees decorate the golden hills of California in the summer, and they provide contrast with the green grass in winter. Below are some varieties of oak trees found in California and ideas on where to look for them:

Oak Tree Symbolism

In Scottish and Irish folktales, an oak tree saved a small fox. A fox pursued by hunters ran to an oak tree, and oak tree spirits helped to hide her. Noticing that her paw was hurt, the oak tree spirits guided her to a small pool of water that healed her foot.

Coastal oak, Los Osos, CA, June 2005

In other stories, the tree is known as King of the Forest. It is associated with eagles, birds of intelligence, renewal, and courage.

The Round Table presided over by King Arthur was made of strong oak wood.

A 14th Century Irish writing, from Deirdre Remembers a Glen, illuminates the following scene containing oak trees:
"The clear voice of the red-backed deer
Under the oak tree, high on the summit.
Gentle hinds and they so timid
Lying in your well-wooded glade."

In the old Irish alphabet called Ogham, the letter for an oak tree was a vertical line with two horizontal lines sticking out to the left. This shape was easy to carve on stone or wood.

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