Even during the hot summer, Coast Live Oaks don't waste water.
Summers in Santa Clarita are hot and dry. People need water, that’s why you see people carrying water bottles with them wherever they go. Plants also need water in order to create glucose, their source of energy.
To get water from the soil, plants evaporate water through their leaves which draws water and minerals through their roots and up into their stems and leaves. Scientists call this transpiration; I call it the Mocha Frappuchino effect, because the mechanism is similar to the vacuum you create when sipping that delicious mixture of iced coffee and chocolate through a straw.
But in our dry climate, plants can’t be water wasters, so they have developed some interesting ways of conserving water. If you take a closer look at the leaf of a coast live oak, you can see what I mean.
Coast live oak leaves are small. The smaller the surface area, the less water is lost to evaporation.
Coast live oak leaves are also curved. A curved surface is better able to re-radiate heat.
Finally, coast live oak leaves have a waxy coating called a cuticle. It helps the leaf retain moisture, much like we used to wrap our sandwiches in waxed paper to keep them from drying out.
And just as an aside, if you carry your sandwich in a reusable and washable plastic container, you’ll be treading more lightly on the Earth’s resources.
The Green Guide (recently acquired by the National Geographic Society) is a good place to go for more information: http://www.thegreenguide.com/reports/product.mhtml?id=44&sec=3.
One of the newest properties, is King Gillette Ranch. The site has an interesting history and architecture, including a mansion built for razor magnate King Gillette and designed by Wallace Neff, a famous California architect.
The park is located about an hour south of Santa Clarita. Take the I-5 south to the 405 and proceed to Hwy 101. Take Hwy 101 (Ventura Freeway) west to the Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon exit. Head south on Las Virgenes Road and continue to Mulholland Hwy, about two miles. Turn left onto Mulholland Highway and immediately look for the King Gillette Ranch entrance on the right.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com.
To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to www.hometownstation.com/or tune in to AM 1220.