Once upon a time, California’s Central Valley was full of valley oaks (Quercus lobata). The largest of the deciduous oak trees endemic to the U.S., the valley oak can grow to 100 ft. and live to 500 years. Over the past century and a half, 90% of the marshy wetlands that were once a dominant feature of the Central Valley have been transformed into drier farmland and the natural habitat of these majestic trees has all but disappeared.
Driving home from my in-laws recently, I spotted a pocket of valley oaks on a ranch near Redding. While these aren’t the methuselahs found at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi, they are beautiful in their own right, especially at this time of year when they sport of new coat of vibrant green leaves.
It makes me sad to think that in California, like elsewhere, so much of our natural beauty has been lost in the name of progress. Let’s hope that the trees gracing this post will have a chance to live up to their full potential future so my grandkids and their kids can be as awed by them as I was when I took these photos.
Wouldn’t it be nice to swing on that swing?