CNPS Announces Re-Oak California

A massive valley oak (Quercus lobata) at Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch, Los Angeles County (note person in front of trunk for scale). Photo: Kendra Sikes

Contact: Liv O’Keeffe
916-447-2677, ext. 202

November 20, 2018, Sacramento – Oak trees are the powerhouses of California’s native ecosystems, and now the non-profit California Native Plant Society has launched a statewide effort to help restore and grow native oak populations up and down California.

“Oaks are an easy and powerful way to help the environment,” CNPS Executive Director Dan Gluesenkamp said. “A single, mature oak will support hundreds of other species and can sequester thousands of pounds in carbon.”

But oak species throughout California face unprecedented decline due to habitat loss, disease, and development.

Just over a year ago, CNPS announced Re-Oak Wine Country, a crowdsourcing volunteer effort to collect acorns from the burned landscapes of Sonoma, Mendocino, and Napa counties. Thousands of Californians participated by gathering acorns, completing scientific data sheets, and sending their acorns to CNPS headquarters. CNPS staff and volunteers then sorted, cleaned, and processed viable acorns for the next phase of the project: propagation.

After months of careful tending, the 2017 acorns are now healthy saplings ready for transplant. CNPS is partnering with community groups in Wine Country and surrounding regions to plant tens of thousands of oak saplings back in the areas from which they originated.

“In restoration efforts, we need to follow careful guidelines to ensure we’re reintroducing the right plants to the right spot,” adds Gluesenkamp. “This way, we make sure both the plants and the local creatures that depend on them have their best chance of survival.”

As the project moves into its second year, CNPS and local groups will facilitate oak planting days, ongoing acorn processing, and support for private landowners interested in restoring oak habitat.

“Last year’s response blew us away,” said Liv O’Keeffe, senior director of communications and engagement for CNPS. “The movement was so strong that it’s inspired our local chapters and other organizations to undertake re-oaking projects all over the state this year.”

The acorn harvest is nearly complete, but volunteers and supporters are needed for planting events and ongoing acorn processing. CNPS is directing people to to sign up, receive instructions, and get ongoing updates.

Oaks are valued among ecologists and environmentalists for their benefits:

• Oaks are the supermarket of the natural world. Oak woodlands support hundreds of animal, pollinator, and bird species.
• Oaks fight global warming. The heavy wood of oaks stores more carbon than most other trees, meaning that they capture carbon dioxide and help fight global warming.
• Oaks bring economic benefit. Studies show that oak trees add significant value to homeowner property. A University of California study found that a neighborhood located 10 percent closer to an oak stand showed a $4 million dollar increase in the overall value of the 544 houses in that community.

“Oaks are the ‘gateway drug’ for restoration,” jokes Gluesenkamp. “If you’re gonna start with something, start with oaks to get maximum bang for your buck.”

Get involved at

About the California Native Plant Society:
The California Native Plant Society is a statewide organization working to save and celebrate California’s native plants and places via plant science, advocacy, education, and horticulture. CNPS has more than 10,000 members in 35 chapters throughout California and Baja to promote its mission at the local level.


  1. I am happy to hear that the importance to Calofornia is being recognized and propagating is in the works! I would like to support the project by becoming a member and volunteer planting in my area of central, coastal California.

    1. That’s great to hear, Lynne! I’m the coordinator for Re-Oak California, and look forward to working with you. We’re ramping up to ship seedlings and get them planted very soon, starting with fire-impacted landscapes in- or near populated areas. This is also the season during which oaks reproduce, and we’re accepting acorn collections from anyone who wants to participate! These will be grown at a dedicated facility, and returned to their source areas for planting next year. To join the Re-Oak ranks, please go to the project’s website (, and click on the “get involved” button on the right side of the screen. This will bring you to a page where you can register as a volunteer, and receive more detailed information. Thanks again! And spread the word!

      1. We could use advice as to our 400+ yr old oak growing right next to the home .as to 0
        Of bracing is needed and pruning. We try to have it laced regularly but it is BIG and awesome !

        Also, if you want acorns- lots em( we have several very large oaks on 4 acres)- you are welcome to them ! Located in Fallbrook (15 min southwest of Temecula)CA.

        1. Lacing is not recommended on oaks
          For it allows to much sunlight into the interior of the oak trees canopy
          If too much light enters, the bark on the branches can sun-burn or sun-scold
          Oak care is a specialized science and there some people working on oaks who don’t understand this work…Too many guys out there with a chain-saw and no knowledge of trees
          I am on California Oak Foundation advisory board and do oak tree consultation and the work
          The Tree Man of Fallbrook – Certified I.S.A. Arborist # 3638 A & Licensed California Nurseryamn

    1. Excellent idea, Bruce! To get some pointers on oak propagation, please navigate to the Re-Oak California website (, and click on the “get involved” button on the right. This will take you to a page where you can select how you’d like to be involved; if you select “plant acorns/oak seedlings on my property” you’ll receive more detailed information on that topic, via email. And feel free to email us directly with any questions: Thanks!

    2. Contact the California Oak Foundation in Oakland Ca.
      They have a brochure on growing oaks from collected acorns

  2. I have lived in an oak groove for 30 years. I am very sad to see all my old oaks dying off. I believe they are being killed by the Gold Spotted Oak Borer. I have been trying to nurture all the young oaks, but the drought has been taking it’s toll on them. This year my oaks did not produce any acorns. This is not a good thing. It means there will be no oak saplings this year. I am very upset at the probability of losing all my oaks. We have tried treating the oaks, but it doesn’t seem to help at all. I am wondering if there is any end in sight for this borer epidemic? It is a very helpless feeling watching all my oaks die…..

  3. I used to live in the middle of an oak grove, but thanks to drought and the Gold Spotted Oak borer, I have lost about 20 mature oaks. It is breaking my heart because more of them are sickly and I have been told that I will lose them all. I have tried treating them, to no avail. I am trying to nurture the young oaks, but many of them are falling victim to drought and hungry gophers. The drought here in the San Diego area has been so bad, that none of my remaining oaks have produced acorns. That means no new saplings this year. I am at a loss as to what to do. We have so many dead oaks on our property that we can’t afford to remove.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Linda. Our landscapes–and the oaks in them–are facing myriad pressures these days, and it’s hard to watch. In the case of the gold-spotted oak borer, we don’t have any effective treatments; for now, the best we can hope for is to slow its advance by careful sanitation measures (like refraining from the transport of firewood over more than a few miles). If you’d like to read more about the natural- and imported enemies of California’s oaks, here’s a great resource: As for rehabilitating your corner of the world, I can only suggest planting acorns and caring for them, by watering and by excluding predators until they’re big enough to resist drought and ravenous gophers. Maybe a strong, well-loved tree will be GSOB-resistant. And natural selection is powerful: we might not see the evolution of genetic resistance in the next few decades, but it will happen. Boosting populations and diversity by re-planting can only help in that respect!

      Incidentally, have you seen any acorns elsewhere in San Diego County? I was looking all over North County last week, and didn’t find much of anything. I’d really appreciate it if you could keep your eyes peeled, and contact me if you find any! I can be reached at

      1. We have a small protected Oak Grove in Eden Valley, a rural community near Harmony Grove and Escondido in San Diego County. In fact, the developer who now owns the land is required to replant many trees to re-establish the grove but they have not done anything to date. I will send you an email as well.

      2. Seth, We have a super abundance of all sorts of acorns in Hidden Meadows, up in North County
        off Mt Meadow Rd exit from 15.

    2. Linda, there are pesticides that are effective against GSOB. Perithrins like Seven sprayed over the oak will work and are no expensive if you find a reputable arborist.

    3. Gopher baskets have been effective in protecting our new native plant pollinator garden. You can also put one upside down over the newly planted tree if necessary to keep wildlife from browsing or use chicken wire. i water my natives on maybe 1/2 an acre. You should see my coyote bushes – millions of beautiful blossoms and now seeds wafting in the air. I have acorns and seedlings, but i water (Santa Monica Mountains 900 ft on a ridge). I am still restoring a burnout property from the 93 fire. After some 10 years my trees are 10 to 30 ft.

  4. The “Open Space Authority of Santa Clara Valley” has started a program this fall to plant acorns in one of its properties, “Rancho del Oro” near Morgan Hill. The acorns are from interior live oaks near Llagas Creek.

    John Gurley

  5. I’m in E San Diego county and have a couple of mature, acorn producing oaks right outside my door. I had so many acorns in the bed of my truck recently that I was WISHING there was someone I could give them to!

    I’m hoping that you are operating this program down my way, and that I can contribute in the future!

    1. That’s marvelous news, Vicky! The acorn production in much of southern California seems to be very light this year; you’re lucky to have such a prolific grove. And we would LOVE to take some of those off your hands. Please email me at Thanks!


  7. Our area was burned last Dec.7. We would like to know if we are able to get some seedlings to plant where all the other trees burned. Or can you give me a contact to see if this is possible.
    Thanks in advance

  8. So happy to learn that there is a group that cares about our lovely California live oaks. I am heartbroken about losing my oaks. I have dragged hundreds of feet of hose around to water them to no avail, I think it might be the borer getting them. What can I do to save my remaining trees?

Post A Comment