Phoenix Oak

New sprouts at the base of Holly Oak (Quercus ilex) in burned area

The little burned oak in the middle of the July 4 rocket fire area is not dead. Like the mythical bird rising from its ashes, this Holly Oak (Quercus ilex) has generated a ring of new sprouts from its base. The first leaves are reddish/purple. Bright leaflets that look like wildflowers lead the way.

This sign of life from the roots is the only evidence of the tree’s chances of survival. There are as yet no visible buds or other signs of regeneration on the trunk or branches. Based on studies with similar trees done in Europe, and cited here in a previous post, the upper portions of the tree are probably gone forever and will eventually fall.

The new sprouts give food for hope, but the tree is “not out of the woods yet,” as the saying goes. Already, bugs have begun chewing on the fresh new leaves, and there are birds and squirrels that love a green salad. A rain shower would be a great help, but none is in the proximate forecast. There is cause for concern.

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