Quercus x chasei | Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
From the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, we see an awesomely structured Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii) and Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) hybrid, Quercus x chasei. The hybrid retains the stunning branch architecture of the Black Oak, while the shrunken, semi-evergreen leaves bespeak Coast Live Oak parentage. Their innate ability to morph their traits through ready-hybridization has given oaks a profound advantage in the severe climate shocks which have characterized the Ice Age cycles of the last several million years on earth. As the planet went through the sometimes rapid freeze-thaw cycles, severe stress was placed on plants. Those with an ability to adapt to these rapid climate changes would find themselves sending offspring into future generations, often as more established "species" met their doom, unable to move to where the climate still suited their now-obsolete genetics.