A few years ago, I was visiting southern California. My girlfriend showed me this pretty tree- that she referred to as an oak. I sort chuckled. Being from the Midwest, I KNEW this was no oak. The leaves were short, thick, very concave, and with sharp spines along the leaf edges. I told her that though this may locally be referred to as an oak- it probably is some sort of a holly...the leaves were nearly identical to any holly i'd ever seen.
Eventually I came to realize- as is usually the case- the girlfriend was right. It WAS an oak. The common name is Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia (agri is the latin root for \"scab\" , \"folia\" of course means leaves. This makes sense when you see the leaves!
This tree is awesome, especially for new climbers, or climbers looking for a relaxing climb. The tree rarely grows taller than about 60', and if left natural, is much wider than it is tall. It makes for some fun limb walking. In nature, the limb will arch all the way down to the ground. The bark does not flake off at all- so it is very \"clean\" to climb.\" The limbs are VERY strong and you can tie in to small branches safely. The outer canopy is usually thick, protecting you from being spotted by passers-by. The inner canopy is usually open- making it easy to maneuver through the canopy.
This tree is similar to the Quercus virginiana, which you see often in the south-eastern US, also called the Live Oak, or Southern Live Oak. Stereotypically, you'd see the southern live oak on the huge front lawn of a huge white house on what used to be or still is a plantation of some sort...at there would be spanish moss growing all over the tree!
Lately, the Coast Live Oak has been very high up on my list of favorite trees to climb. Have you climbed one before?
One of my favorite trees to climb, at least I have been doing it without ropes for a while here. The trees are very strong as you mention, with a 2\" limb easily supporting your weight near the main trunk. The nice thing is that even when wet, the bark is rough enough for good traction, and yet not flaky as you mention.
I was just wandering this morning and was spying one that looks like an excellent one to learn some techniques on, as I am just beginning. Nice and tall, about 50' with good branching and clear understory. I'm looking forward to trying some techniques for rope advance in it as there are good branches for resting and tossing. I'll post here when I get a chance to climb, hopefully with some pictures.