Tree Blog

Quercus tomentella | Somis

Scattered around southern California, and especially in Santa Barbara and Goleta, can be found oaks that seem to combine traits of Island Oak (Quercus tomentella) and Holly Oak (Q. ilex) in an unexpected way. There was only one nursery known to sell Island Oaks, Berylwood Nursery in Somis, long overseen by one of the elder statesmen (now passed away) of the southern California nursery industry, Rolla Whilhite. When asked about this conundrum, the strong-willed Mr. Whilhite would only say that the acorns from which these trees were grown came from a tree itself grown from proper island genetics. But he refused to show anyone that tree. After his passing, Berylwood dug, and sold, a roughly 30 year old Island Oak, shown here, which did in fact appear to be an authentic Island Oak. But Berylwood also grew a whole lot of Holm Oaks, and it's virtually certain that the Island Oak mother tree was pollenized by these Holm Oaks, giving rise to a hybrid, which to our knowledge, has never been described by science.

Dave Muffly