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Secrets of the Oak Woodlands

Articles: Secrets of the Oak Woodlands

As a Californian, I feel a great sense of PLACE when I think about “oak woodlands.” These iconic landscapes are integral
to this place we call home. Being among oaks, it’s easy to believe in something not only bigger than myself, but also better than myself, and in the uplifting knowledge that whole symbiotic systems can and do work together in a dynamic process of give and take, checks and balances.

California naturalist Kate Marianchild’s new book, Secrets of the Oak Woodlands, provides a nice introduction to the ecological and cultural importance of oak-related plant communities, followed by close-up profiles of 22 specific organisms that are either 1) recognized as “keystone” elements in these ecosystems, 2) particularly rare or interesting, or 3) among her personal favorites after living in close observation of these communities for the past 13-odd years.

Marianchild defines her terms right in the beginning of this simultaneously personal and well-researched book: “An ‘oak woodland’ is officially defined as an oak stand in which at least 10 percent of the land is covered by oaks and other species, mostly hardwoods. Here, however, I include oak savannas (grassy expanses ...

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