About Sacramento’s Native Trees
Though Sacramento is home to a number of native trees, the most recognizable are our native oaks. The three most common native oak trees are the valley oak (Quercus lobata) the interior live oak (Quercus wislizenii) and the blue oak (Quercus douglasii). Oak trees can pollinate other oaks in the same botanical section and a number of hybrid oaks can be found at certain locations in Sacramento.
In eastern Sacramento County, blue oaks are most common. Blue oaks are well adapted for our Mediterranean weather patterns and thrive with wet winters and hot, dry summers. If this natural pattern is interrupted or altered (for example by the addition of irrigation within the area surrounding the tree) the blue oak will decline and not live out its potentially centuries long life span.
The valley oak is the largest tree in the valley. These trees love to grow in the deep soils left by the meandering rivers and flooding cycles of pre-settlement Sacramento. Though highly adaptable, they will grow in almost any of our valley soils if treated with care. These large trees prefer to keep their roots dry in the summertime and do not appreciate heavy irrigation.
The interior live oak is the most common evergreen oak in the valley. This tree sports two different leaf forms with young foliage having spiky edges and older foliage having smooth edges. Though similar to its cousin the coast live oak, the interior live oak is better suited to our extremely hot summers.
Other Native Trees
Some of the other native trees that are common in our area include:
- California sycamore (Platanus racemosa)
- California black walnut (Juglans hindsii)
- Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii)
- Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia)
- boxelder (Acer negundo)
- gray pine (Pinus sabiniana)
- California white alder (Alnus rhombifolia)
- California buckeye (Aesculus californica)
- a number of different willows (Salix spp.)
Join us at one of our native tree planting events to get some hands-on learning about our oak heritage. Visit our calendar of events and sign up to volunteer.