COAST LIVE OAK
Chumash: molǝš Español: Yerba Ceniza/Estafiate
Origin: Coastal California to Baja California
Flower Color: Dark green leaves, with spiny teeth and yellow flowers
Esposure: Full sun, but shade and mulch young plants
Drought Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation: Weekly for the first year, then monthly until 10ft tall, then no summer watering
Alternate Names: California Live Oak
The Coast Live Oak is a beautiful evergreen oak that grows predominantly west of the central valleys, as far north as Mendocino County, and as far south as northern Baja California in Mexico. The Coast Live Oak is one of the only California native oak that actually thrives in the coastal environment, although it is rare on the immediate shore. It enjoys the mild winter and summer climate near the ocean and it is somewhat tolerant of aerosol-borne sea salt. The coastal fog supplies relief from the rainless California summer heat. It is the keystone species of the Coast Live Oak woodland habitat.
The Coast Live Oak provides food and habitat for many species of mammals and birds, including but not limited to acorn woodpeckers, scrub jays, the oak titmouse, squirrels, woodrats, turkey vultures and many more. Indigenous people depended on the Coast Live Oak for its rich acorns which surpass in flavor and fat most other oak acorns. This traditional food is seeing a resurgence in modern use. This Oak tree provides much needed shade and transpiration of moisture. It is also important for carbon sequestering and provides habitat for all kinds of microbes, fungus, and invertebrates. The Oak Gall wasp is another species of interest that depends on the Coast Live Oak tree. Many butterflies and moths use the Live Oak as a host plant including the California Sister and the Mournful Duskywing.