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The California Black Oak trees of Yosemite Valley are an iconic scenic highlight. This particular grove is found in the El Capitan Meadow. During spring and summer, its shiny green foliage affords a strong contrast to the darker green of the Ponderosa Pine’s tall, narrow spires. The trunk of the Black Oak is a weathered deep gray, often black, with a hard bark roughened and checkered along the lower portion. It usually divides, at a height of from fifteen to twenty-five feet, into several large branches, which are again subdivided and produce an open but rounded crown, fifty to seventy-five feet above the ground producing a cathedral like feeling and presence when you are nearby.
Black Oaks have been recognized as a valued cultural and biological resource. Their acorns were a major part of American Indian diets, and traditional acorn collection still occurs today. Acorns also are important to the diets of various animals, including bears, deer, woodpeckers, and squirrels.
The Black Oak is a beautiful tree to photograph year-round in Yosemite Valley. With russet and gold foliage in the fall and covered with snow in the winter and with the majestic granite walls of Yosemite Valley in the background.