Thursday, January 28, 2016

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
Bare Oak at Berry Hill Farm in Winter
 © B. Radisavljevic

Oak trees are magnificent during all seasons. Some, like the live oaks, are evergreen. Many oaks on the California Central Coast, though, are deciduous. They lose their leaves in winter. That's when I think they are most interesting. With the leaves gone, the oaks reveal their skeletons, their branches that are covered with leaves half the year. It's also easier to see lichens and galls once the leaves don't cover them. That's why in this post we will be looking at deciduous oak trees in winter

The oak  to the right was photographed at Berry Hill Farm on Linne Road in Paso Robles, in January.  Most of the leaves have dropped off. You can see the silhouette of the tree's skeleton. You can click most photos on this page to enlarge them.

Here are more photos that reveal the "bare bones' of the oak trees.

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
Bare Oak in Paso Robles in Winter, © B. Radisavljevic


Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
Cattle Grazing near  Oaks in Paso Robles in Winter, © B. Radisavljevic


Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
Wide Bare Oak in Paso Robles in Winter, © B. Radisavljevic


Some of the most interesting oak trees are those that have been damaged in some way. Sometimes they've had their shapes changed by man when  they get too close power lines along the  sides of roads. In other instances they've been damaged by fire or lightning. Insects and fungus can also attack oaks. If you see a ring of mushrooms around an oak, it's an indication the tree may be infected in the roots and bark, as well. Oak root fungus can eventually kill an oak tree if the tree has also  been weakened in some other way.

I am not sure what has damaged the tree below.  The mistletoe has probably weakened it, especially since the drought has stressed the trees and made them more susceptible to mistletoe's stealing of nutrients.  Mistletoe can  eventually cause the limb to break at the point where it is attached. 

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
This photo shows an overview of the damaged oak tree. You can see the mistletoe at the top.  © B. Radisavljevic

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
This photo shows the damaged part closer up. You can see the holes that indicate the tree is probably hollow and animals or birds may live within it© B. Radisavljevic

With a tree's leaves gone, it's easier to see unusual growths on the oaks. Two of the most common are lichens and oak galls. The round galls are made by gall wasps laying eggs. The lichens add color to the bark. Neither growth harms the trees, but they do add interest. The galls almost look like the balls one would hang on a Christmas tree, except they aren't shiny.

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
Bird on Branch of Oak in Winter. Notice the round galls, © B. Radisavljevic

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
  Notice the round galls on this oak. © B. Radisavljevic

Looking at Deciduous Oak Trees in Winter
Did you notice the yellowish lichen on the small branches on the left and the lone acorn on the right? © B. Radisavljevic


It ought to be obvious now that I love oak trees, especially in winter. That's why I made a few designs at Zazzle using some of my photos. Most of the oaks I used in Zazzle products were photographed when they still had leaves, but these were taken when the leaves were gone.