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Oak/Madrone forest

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Hey all,

We are considering a number of properties in SW Oregon for purchase and I came across a few that had a type of forest that I had not seen before.  Maybe someone here has some experience...

The majority of trees on these sites were oaks and madrones.  It was hard to get an exact identification this time of year on the type of oak, but from the leaves that were on the ground, they looked to be a type of white oak.  The trees were not too dense (easy walking throughout the area) even though the areas received good sun exposure.  None of the trees looked taller than 40-50 feet.  There was a good mix of north and south facing slope and the soil was a fairly light clay loam.  The soil was quite wet this time of year, but I imagine as with most parts of SW Oregon, the summers get quite dry.  The altitude ranged from ~1-2 thousand feet so there shouldn't be any alpine stunting issues.  I think the climate is in the USDA zone 7 range.

Even in the wintertime the properties were quite beautiful with a lot of lichen on the trees.  I am very tempted to purchase one of the larger pieces (about 80 acres) but I want to "dig" in and make sure a diverse permaculture design won't be too difficult to establish as compared to other options.  Both oaks and madrones are good wildlife trees, but I am a little concerned over the seeming lack of diversity.

If we move forward with one of these, I will definitely get a soil analysis done before the purchase goes through.

Any thoughts on establishing a food forest in such an area?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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How exciting!

My grandparents had a place just across the border to the south, far inland from Crescent City, which had madrone but also conifers. My grandfather's orchards did well, but I seem to remember berries being very important too. I remember him telling me what good wood madrone is, when I was very young.

I've read white oak produces the tastiest acorns, so that is one staple crop fewer to worry about. It's probably worth looking into dry-season methods of removing the tannins: I could imagine circulating water through acorn meal, then charcoal, would improve both the food and the soil amendment. Maybe it would be worth hedging your bets with an un-related staple like piñon pine: perhaps the Colorado piñon?

It sounds like ramps would do well there, as well as mushrooms. Especially if you decide to keep bees there, and worry about them finding food in a particular season, I recommend paul stamets' brief article Permaculture with a Mycological Twist: the right mycelia in a hugelkultur bed, and a hole dug to expose them at the right time, would keep a hive very well-fed at times of year when local vegetation isn't diverse enough to supply nectar.

I could imagine using termites to feed fish, the way sepp holzer uses ants. There are also simpler aquatic creatures you might keep: I remember crayfish doing very well in that climate, and I hear they are easy to care for.

Is there claytonia (like miner's lettuce) on the property? It might be a good genus to encourage or introduce.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Until you get into the CA biome, oak is typically Quercus garyanna (sp?).  Oak savannah in Puget Sound was maintained by fire to keep the conifirs from shading it out.  Lots of spring ephemerals. Camissia quamash - Camas was a common carbohydrate in the lily family.  Madrone typically sticks to dry locations as well.  Solid madrone forest up here sometimes results from fire, as I understand it will stump sprout.

No conifers at all would be odd.

I would probably count on a pretty droughty site, and would think a lot about water, and look at well logs, unless you are planning on a heap of catchment.  The understory composition might tell you more clearly about microclimate than the trees - which are likely more widely adapted.
... but I am 400 miles north, and haven't looked at these systems at your elevation or latitude.

Golden Chinquapin is an interesting species that I hear grows in your neighborhood.
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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This is an old study but it might help a little.
http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_rn456.pdf

Madrone is my favorite tree to climb.  Can't get enough of them.   

Any evidence of fire that could have burned through the understory?    What about alder, a nitrogen fixer.

What about ferns, poison oak, berries, grasses?    When you said lack of diversity did you just mean trees?
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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good info, thanks to each of you!

Whichever property we end up with, it will definitely have many ponds, big and small.  Our whole family has enjoyed the small yearly pond we have on our current property and it is a constant source of fodder for homeschool lessons.  Crayfish are on the list.

I saw claytonia on a couple of the properties that I visited, but not on the madrone/oak parcels.

The mycelium for bees is very interesting, I haven't read anything on that topic.

There isn't any sign that a fire had passed through in recent times.  I didn't see any damage on the trees, just minimal understory throughout.  There is a grassy groundcover, but it was also dormant this time of year.  Didn't see any ferns and not many smaller bushes.  The lack of blackberries on an oregon property was astounding 
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Nitrogen fixing species such as alder may help, but I am wondering if there is a micronutrient deficiency or excess in these areas that the madrones and oaks can tolerate.

I'll check out the forest service document and see if there are any clues.  Thanks!
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Q. garryanna and Q. kelloggii are the main oaks in SW Oregon. I would second the caution about checking on the water where you are buying. If there are no or only a few firs or pines, this is a droughty site, probably with dense clay soil. Has probably been overgrazed as well, since that is what that kind of land is used for. Even the less-hammered sites will have a fair amount of non-native weedy grasses.

Madrone is a wonderful tree. It will coppice, and it makes good firewood, puts out a lot of heat. It is nearly impossible to split when dry, and not real easy to split when green. Old leaves will drop late spring / early summer. The oak is also good firewood of course.

If you buy land in this vegetation type, be sure to plan your fire sector. Also, be sure you know what poison oak looks like in all its seasons, because it's undoubtedly there!
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 488
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Forgot to mention - if you have enough water, the usual European fruit trees will do well. The Rogue Valley still grows a lot of fruit. You should also be able to get good forage crops established under the existing forest.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
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     Madron, arbutus unedo grow in the oak farms here, the ones dedicated to cattle pig and sometimes sheep too farming, whose acorns fatten the live stock and the leaves of whose trees feed it in winter and in the south in summer too. It is the evergreen oak and the cork oak they usually have here
      In my book on these farms by César Fuentes  Sanchez, "la Encina en el Centro y Suroeste de España. This is the book that gave me almost all of the information on oaks farms of Spain i have. I wirite about it in  the forestry part of these forums
   Madroños are given as belonging on these farms and as being a forage tree.
fruit of the woods are sometimes given as beign part of animal feed the v¡berries of this tree for instance and the juniper and acorns beign among the fruit of the woods i suppose. 
    The other trees he mentions as being in these farms and being a forage trees are the celtis australis eurapean hackberry. The holly and wild olive all of which can be used for forage.
    The evergreen oaks don't like too much fertiliser though may be too little is not good for them either. Oaks have deep roots and deep rooted trees feed their shallower roots with water when the ground is dry and the shalow ones are losingf water to the dry ground instead of picking it up. Pastures take longer to dry under these trees.
     I post a picture of the roots of an encina in a quarry in a wood of holly oaks in the province of Guadalajara the centre of Spain, so you can see how important the roots can be to keeping your farm damp.
the cracks in the rock are created by the roots.agri rose macskie.
roots 1.jpg
[Thumbnail for roots 1.jpg]
 
rose macaskie
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  this is a photo of the patch of gravel on the rock face that occures just above the gravel heap on the photo and here you can see the roots of the encina. rose
roots 10.jpg
[Thumbnail for roots 10.jpg]
 
rose macaskie
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  the same picture from further off.
and another tree that shows the roots of the encina above it in the cracks more clearly. The oaks roots seem to make earth round them in the cracks . I thought i had a foto in which you could see the roots better. rose.
roots 2.jpg
[Thumbnail for roots 2.jpg]
roots 4.jpg
[Thumbnail for roots 4.jpg]
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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