In January (see “White Oak Survival” on 01-29-2018) I posted photographs of Oregon white oaks (Quercus garryana) in the Modoc National Forest that were damaged by the Cove Fire, which burned almost 40,000 acres near Adin CA (Modoc County) last summer.
Some of the trees had scorched leaves still on the branches, while on other trees the branches were bare. Ignoring those oaks which obviously were seriously burned, Leonard and I postulated that the trees/branches with scorched leaves remaining were dead while those without leaves were still alive and could survive. Many of the bare branches were “green” and showed signs of leaf buds, while the branches with scorched leaves were dry when snapped and showed no sign of leaf buds. Our reasoning was that the leaves on the bare branches completed their cycle and dropped in the fall, while the scorched leaves were on dead branches and could not drop normally.
Last month (May) I photographed many Oregon white oaks at the Cove Fire site. Oaks in the areas where the fire was not too hot and which dropped their leaves last fall are alive and bear green leaves. Oaks with scorched leaves remaining have no green leaves and do appear dead, as we suspected. Most interesting though are the trees which had some bare branches (usually toward the top of the tree) and some lower branches with scorched, brown leaves. These trees are green and thriving except for sections of the same trees with brown leaves remaining. Those parts of the trees are dead.
Oregon white oaks not completely destroyed by the Cove Fire, even if there was some damage to the tree, are recovering. Already the forest is returning.