If you asked people to name a tree synonymous with California, you might hear “palm tree” or “redwood,” but the mighty oak is the foundation of much of California’s native plant biodiversity. Over 20 species of native oak trees and even more varieties and hybrids anchor nearly 20 million acres of woodlands and forests across the state.
Oaks can live to be over 400 years old, storing carbon, shading the hot land, and supplying food and shelter to thousands of insects, birds, and other animals. Oaks are also culturally significant, maintained by California Tribes with frequent, low-severity fire and other methods of tending. But California’s oak population is facing dramatic declines, affecting all who rely on them. Efforts are ongoing to restore oak woodlands, including replanting oaks. Here’s how you can help.