ID please - curly-leaf oak

gorlash(9 (Fremont, CA))November 24, 2012

This shrub grows on rocky ridges in local Chaparral woodlands, such as in Sunol Regional Wilderness, CA (where these photos were taken).

I've always called it "curly-leaf oak", because the leaves look oakey to me; however, I cannot find any oak that looks like this, so I suspect I am completely off base!!

This particular sample was 5-6 feet high, but most of them seem to hug the rocks where they grow. I've never seen the plant in blossom, in several years of observing.

Does anyone recognize it?

photo of branch:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/derelllicht/8213998490/

close-up of leaf cluster

http://www.flickr.com/photos/derelllicht/8212913773

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL
    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 9:25AM
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theplantwizard(Sunset 13)

Quercus palmeri?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 9:45AM
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nonmember_gw

Rhamnus ilicifolia?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 10:12AM
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gorlash(9 (Fremont, CA))

theplantwizard: yes, I think that is right... odd that this species didn't turn up in any of my "california oak" searches...

I apologize for not posting my images in html format, I'll do so in the future; it definitely makes them more useful!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 10:21AM
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gorlash(9 (Fremont, CA))

(it's too bad I cannot edit an existing post!!)

Okay, now I'm not sure; some images of Rhamnus ilicifolia *also* look much like this (including the red branches on the immature portions of the plant). Also, I've seen mature R. ilicifolia elsewhere on that ridge.

Multiple descriptions of Q. palmeri, describe a clumping characteristic which I've seen with this plant, further up the ridge where it gets more constant sun and wind.

Does anyone know of a diagnostic that I might apply in the field, to distinguish between these species??

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 10:30AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Looks like a buckthorn to me. You can tell oaks from buckthorns by the buds and branching.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 4:31PM
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gorlash(9 (Fremont, CA))

As it turns out, I had prevously identified a mature shrub on the same ridge, back in 2008; someone had ID'd the plant as prunus ilicifolia, which may well be correct, for that plant *and* for my new plant as well.

This is interesting... I'm looking at Rhamnus ilicifolia and Prunus ilicifolia, and I could almost swear they are the same plant!! The Prunus spp are also native and common in chaparral... Any thoughts on the two species?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 4:25AM
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nonmember_gw

Cherry leaves are generally darker and more opaque than Rhamnus, and the lateral veins begin to fork farther from the edge of the leaf. But, given the variation due to sun exposure,etc. the two can be hard to distinguish, even with lots of practice.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Buds, branching etc. will all be different between the three. Presence of fruits would certainly make it apparent which was which, right at the start.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 2:54PM
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gorlash(9 (Fremont, CA))

Yes, I'll plan on making a swing up the ridge this spring and try to catch fruit, both on this sample (which gets alot of shade) and the low-growing ridge-line examples as well!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 8:09PM
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RugbyHukr(23)

If you have never noticed any flowers, then it is probably the Rhamnus whose flowers are close to the stems and easily obscured by the leaves. The Prunus flowers extend beyond the foliage and are very noticeable.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 1:47PM
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