Consider the acorn. By kindergarten, most children know that the smooth, brown shell hides a secret: it’s a ‘baby oak with a lunch box,’ recalls Brent Reed, now Ecological Program Manager with Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation. Inside its weather and insect-resistant coat, every acorn is a live packet of waiting pre-programed cells, primed for growth, surrounded by a dense store of energy-rich carbohydrates and minerals. When conditions finally trigger its cells to begin growing, there’s enough food in the acorn’s pantry to build and drive a tap root as much as four feet down into the soil, create and unfurl a set of sugar-making leaves, and hoist them on a rigid mast into the sunlight.
Scattered among the wine country’s hillsides, mountains and valleys, the oaks that produce these acorns are part of the unique defining character of Sonoma County. But to naturalists, they’re also something more. Essential to the health of the local environment, mature oak trees are a combination of high-rise condominium, supermarket, water management and superhighway systems. In short, they are teeming centers of life.
The towering and ancient oaks are also part of the human community. Once a primary food source for native people, today they provide shade for homes, backyards and parks. They line neighborhood streets, bridge urban and rural boundaries, clean the air, sequester carbon and shelter wildlife.
Source: Stephen Nett, The Press Democrat, March 7, 2018