California Oaks – Foundation Habitat Species

The Oak Woodland Forest ecosystem is prevalent in California. It contains both evergreen (live oaks) and deciduous types of oak trees. Oaks are considered foundation species because of their role in the web of life.

Identifying California Oak Trees

Acorns – One of the Most Important Protein Sources for Native Americans

History: Native American Food Processing


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Cornell University – The California Acorn Survey

Oak Trees & Woodlands

Live Oak Gall Wasp – Joyce Gross

Living Wild Project – Oak

Native Oaks booklet – Placer Tree Partners – PDF

University of California – Oak Woodland Management 

University of Nebraska – What drives masting? The phenological synchrony hypothesis (PDF)  – Mass seed production years

WikiHow – How to Identify Oak Leaves

Indian Grinding Rock State Park

Pine Grove, CA (approx. 90 miles from Nevada City, CA)

Instructions for Gathering & Processing Acorns

Collect in fall when nuts are on the ground.

  • discard nuts with caps
  • discard nuts with black streaks
  • discard nuts with holes

Wash  & dry nuts in a single layer – bring inside every night to keep dry.

Dry for several weeks.

Shell acorns.

Grind nuts into meal / flour.

Leach with cool water – it’s done when ground material tastes bland.

Strain water from mash – eat immediately or dry.

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