Quercus agrifolia

UPDATE 5.6.23: I incorrectly showed the position of the female flowers. See this post.

It promises to be a great year for acorns around here! Most of the coast live oaks are currently sprouting thousands of yellow fingers, male flowers on their long catkins. Their female counterparts are hard to see, but if you look closely you can find them wedged in the angle between leaf and branch.

California’s oak woodlands sustain higher levels of biodiversity than virtually any other terrestrial ecosystem in the state. More than 300 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals depend on oak woodlands for food and shelter, and that doesn’t count the many hundred species of insects, spiders, mosses, lichens and fungi.

Like so many other habitats, oak woodlands are under severe threat from development and climate change. But for this year, at least, we can look forward to a healthy acorn crop. Yay!

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