Fagaceae (Oak Family)

The Fagaceae (Oak Family) members are trees and shrubs with alternate leaves. On Montara Mountain, the family is represented by Oaks and Chinquapins.

The staminate (male) flowers are in elongated catkins; the pistillate (female) flowers are solitary in Oaks and at the base of the staminate flowers in Chinquapins. Each pistillate flower produces a single-seeded nut. In Oaks, the fruit is an acorn, the scaly cup of which is formed from the flower bracts. In Chinquapins, similar bracts form a spiny bur that encloses 1-3 nuts.

Both Oaks and Chinquapins may be propagated from their nuts, and are useful additions to native gardens.On Montara Mountain, Fagaceae members include the Golden Chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla minor) and the Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia).



Chrysolepis chrysophylla minor:
Golden Chinquapin

Fagaceae (Oak Family)

Flowers: Creamy white, small; in showy spikes.

Blooms: Late Summer

Leaves: Dark green above, powdery mustard yellow/gold below, long and leathery, 3 - 6 inches long, curving under at tip.

Fruit/Seeds: Nuts clustered in very spiny green case, ripening to brown, burr like cases. Fall-Winter.

Location: Dry trails at higher elevations, more so on the Pacifica side - Montara Mountain trail, Brooks fall overlook trail.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: 15 - 20 ft tall at maturity, shorter in wind swept areas, growing in groves. Evergreen.

Chrysolepis chrysophylla minor

Note the burr like seed - often you will notice these along the trail before you come across the plant. The reflected light from the golden underside of the leaves can make walking through a Chinquapin grove a magical experience.

Photo by Mike Vasey. 640x480 JPEG - 36K


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