Oaktopia

Tree Blog

Quercus agrifolia | Deer Protection

When looking at the trees of coastal California, from Mendocino County south to Baja California, the most common tree will certainly be Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia). For the reason of its commonness, and obvious vulnerability to climate change due to a notably narrow and limited range, our treatment of Coast Live Oak here will be limited and idiosyncratic. Here we see the successful establishment of Coast Live Oak on the Dish at Stanford, in a cattle grazed area. The cattle grazing necessitated the use of t-posts and concrete reinforcing wire, to 5 feet in height. But cattle were not the only grazing mammals present on the land, so deer quickly taught the tree establishment team that their otherwise useful Tubex tree shelters were too short - the deer would reach right over the cage, and munch newly-emerging sprouts from the top of the shelter, as if being served a salad. By adding a two to three foot extension to the tree shelter shown here, the establishers were able to grow the tree above the browse height of a deer standing on the conveniently-provided climbing fence, and, once free of the deer, this tree began to transform into an excellent young savanna Coast Live Oak.

Dave Muffly