Evergreen is densely packed with big, hundreds of years old trees that stay green year round. That’s the whole reason for the name. That and Oakland was already taken. Oak trees are the majority of this wooded grassland we call home. I’ve tried to think like an oak tree, be an oak tree and even worn my hair kinky like an oak tree. Upon my research, it would seem so ordinary to have just one or two kinds of oak species in an area this large, not 5-10 like we actually have. It’s why there’s a place just outside of Evergreen that UC Berkeley studies the oak trees. Today, I’ve picked the most festive of the oaks to focus on.
Holly Oak, the species, is named for its Holly-like leaves and branches, despite its other connotations. Holly means magical, like Hollywood (with “wood” attached like Norwood). It doesn’t have the regular oak leaves like to the right, but pointy ones. The branches weren’t knotty and kinked like other oaks. This is the leaf formation to the left, a typical Coastal Oak to the right, and a wide shot of the same young Holly Oak tree down below. We see these in Evergreen all the time, especially along our creeks.
This tree lines and shades the creek bed along Thompson Creek, also known as Dry Creek on historic maps, and around the school which is named for it. I went to afterschool camp here as a youngster and thought this was what an oak tree was, with its pointy leaves and elongated acorns. I also found it amongst other indigenous oaks and laurels by Silver Creek Linear Park and what is Silver Creek, the Creek.
Neat trick and historian note: I can take a tape measure to trees and guesstimate an age, but I know any tree I can’t hug completely and touch my fingers is over 100 years old. I have a wing span of 5.25 ft., I’m approximately a perfect Vitruvian Square like everyone else. You too ought to be able to guesstimate the age of the trees. Just give them a hug.