Oak (Quercus garryana)
rocky hilltops on Vancouver Island's southern and eastern edges,
small trees, gnarled and twisted, eke out a living in the dry summers
there. These are Garry Oaks, British Columbia's only representative
of this family. In deeper soils, the oaks grow to become stately
trees, the last of which can be found among the lawns and roads
of greater Victoria. There are very few places left where these
older trees are growing in intact ecosystems, with younger trees
coming along to replace them.
Garry Oak is
one of the white oaks (in the United States, it is called Oregon
White Oak). It is very slow growing, in part because it is so often
found in austere habitat. In dry summers, some oaks will shed their
leaves, and put on a new set if there is some late summer moisture.
Its acorns are an important food for Band-tailed Pigeons. Steller's
Jays also take advantage of this food source, and are now known
to be important players in the dispersal of the acorns to new sites.
Garry Oaks of
various sizes can be seen in Victoria's Uplands Park, and other
hilltop parks on southern Vancouver Island.