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September 28, 2018


Quercus vaccinifolia (huckleberry oak)

End of September greetings, 

I hope this finds you doing well. It might be a good idea to wear a bike helmet or hard hat if you will be spending much time under oak trees. The acorns are falling and the crop seems to be a good one this year in most places. If you will be wanting acorns in any quantity this is the time to let me know so they get harvested before the jays, raccoons and deer pick out all the good ones. And for where the crop is extra heavy; before the leaves fall and the acorns get covered and start sprouting as the rain begins to fall.

I got back earlier this week from a week long collecting trip to the date farm in Thermal and back. My car was completely stuffed with seed by the time I got home. Many thanks to Sandi, the new owner of Spring Hill Nursery in Mount Shasta City, California. Sandi was kind enough to let me store three days worth of seed harvesting in a cool, mouse free part of a garage at the nursery until I picked them up on the way home. Included in the stash were two chicken feed bags full of Chrysolepsis sempervirens (bush chinquapin) burs and two large bags of Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar). The crop for both species was very bountiful this year.

As a side note Spring Hill Nursery is right next to Spring Hill Park which is the location of the headwaters of the Sacramento River. If you have never seen that before and plan to be driving I-5 through Mount Shasta City I highly recommend taking a break to see this marvel of water gushing out of the ground forming an instant stream. Fill all your empty containers with water from the spring. It is delicious and refreshing. In all the times I have stopped there, no matter what time of day it is, I have never not seen at least one other person getting water. The site is a pilgrimage spot for many travelers and this time, as if often the case, someone was beating drums in the woods near the spring as others sat on benches and rocks in states of meditation and possibly worship.

Storing the bags in the garage kept the seed in much better condition than it would have been if it had sat in my car in the 108° temperatures on the date farm. It also gave me room to give my mom a ride, with her carry on bag and suitcase, to her sister's home in Ontario, California. The two sisters then flew up to Portland the next day where Flip picked them up and brought them to our place as I drove home. They are enjoying being on the homestead.

I only came home from this trip with one new species for my list. Moosa Creek Nursery in Valley Center, California had asked me to keep my eyes open for Eriodictyon crassifolium (thickleaf yerba santa). I had spotted a big patch of it flowering along I-5 near Gorman, California back in June and though a little earlier would have been better for harvesting it, I was able to harvest enough to get just under 2 oz of the very tiny seeds.

I did a 3 day harvesting trip to southern Oregon and back up the coast earlier in the month. On that trip I got a new species of acorn to add to the attached list. It is Quercus vaccinifolia (huckleberry oak). I also got some Rudbeckia glaucescens (California coneflower).

I drove through quite a few recently burned areas on this trip. In three of my regular harvest sites the fires had burned right next to the plants I was intending to harvest. Near Mountain Center, California at a number of spots I had collected last year the trees and shrubs were all torched. The recent Delta Fire that shut down I-5 near Shasta Lake for nearly a week was the most sobering burnscape. The hillsides on both sides of the freeway are scorched for many miles. There was a sad looking single spike buck standing along the freeway looking for a break in the speeding traffic to cross to the other side. The buck was covered in ash from walking through the blackened forest. If the buck actually did end up making safely across the freeway it was headed into more ground that was, at that location, blackened as far as my eyes could see. Alas.

Thankfully in time the burned areas will resprout and regrow. And thankfully many of you are growing plants to restore areas in need of vegetation. Let me know if you need any seed for your work. Especially let me know if you will be wanting acorns. (A shout out to Thatcher at Loen Nursery with several locations here in Oregon. I'm still waiting for your order.)

Savor these last warm sunny days of the year. Take care,


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