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Trees of Yosemite (1932, 1948) by Mary Curry Tresidder


Canyon Live Oak

Quercus chrysolepis Liebm.

Canyon Live Oak Acorns. Slightly Less Than Natural Size
Canyon Live Oak Acorns
Slightly Less Than Natural Size

The tree commonly known as Golden-Cup Oak in the Yosemite region goes by many other names in different localities. Maul Oak is one of the most generally employed, as the hardness of the wood makes it valuable for mauls and other uses of carpentry; Hickory Oak is similarly derived; Canyon Live Oak and White Live Oak are still other descriptive names often applied to it.

It is a white oak and a live oak, as some of the names above imply; the leaves persist for several years. The shape of the tree varies considerably with the environment; sometimes it is merely a shrub; sometimes it has a short, thick trunk sending out long branches into a round, full crown; sometimes the trunk is clear for fifteen feet or more before it sends up the branches that support its canopy. In the Yosemite the very short trunk dividing into several main limbs is perhaps the most common form, and at times a very striking one.

The leaves, too, are extremely variable; the leaves are small, oblong to ovate in shape. On a single tree, some leaves will resemble the holly, with its sharply notched margins, while others have a perfectly smooth margin. Young leaves have a ruddy tinge, almost copper, when they first emerge from the winter buds; they later assume a bright yellowish-green color above, with a golden down on the duller side beneath. As they age they become a darker green and lose their down, becoming grayish beneath but still very shiny on the upper side of the leaf.

The trees blossom in late winter; the acorns seem to develop very little the first summer, but ripen at the end of the second season to a pale chestnut. They have very short stems, being set in cups coated with a yellow fuzz, sometimes almost a deep mustard color. The cups are very striking when they are first scattered freely on the ground—lovely dishes for a playhouse.



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