Holly Oak Progress Report

The little Holly Oak that was burned in the 4th of July fire two years ago is making a good recovery. The fire killed the tree’s branches and leaves, and it looked to be quite dead. But in the year-end rains, new shoots emerged from the root crown, indicating that reports of its death were exaggerated. More than two years later, new branches with healthy green leaves have reached about halfway up the original tree’s core. If all goes well, in another two years the tree will have recovered its pre-fire elevation. Here’s how it looked this month:

Holly tree (Quercus ilex) September 2022

The Holly Oak is a Mediterranean native, widespread in Spain and Greece. It has been introduced to the British Isles, where it has thrived so vigorously that it’s considered invasive in the UK. Our little tree was barely six feet tall before the fire. If given time — a lot of time — the Holly Oak (aka Holm Oak) can grow to more than ten times that height. It’s an evergreen. How it got here is unknown. There are a number of them growing in the East Bay, and the acorns are small enough to be carried by jays.

If you want to see it, walk north on the paved trail on the east side of the park. About sixty yards north of the Barn Owl box on the left side of the path, the Holly Oak grows about 12 feet to the left.

More on the Holly Oak in Wikipedia and in Chavez Park.

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