Garry Oak Ecosystem
Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) photographed by Linda Storm. Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.
Typical on the southern reaches of Puget Sound country and further south are the unique and special prairie communities which may include our only oak, the Garry Oak. These grassy savannah-like openings occur in gravelly dry soils and are frequently associated with glacial outwash. Here rich meadow communities of grasses and wildflowers intermingle with massive oak trees which may be more than 300 years old.
The Tacoma prairies, the Weir prairie near Olympia, and the famous mima mounds are all examples of this habitat type. Idaho fescue, Henderson’s shooting star, and the extraordinary blue camas create a striking blaze of color in the spring. The yellow prairie violet, the western long-spurred violet, blue-eyed Mary and the showy yellow balsam root are all common in these unique western Washington prairies.
Sadly, these prairies are vanishing as a result of increased development and encroachment by Douglas fir.
Recent Conference Abstracts, Notes, Materials:
Oak Woodland Restoration: Understory Response to Removal of Encroaching Conifers by Warren D. Devine, Constance A. Harrington, and David Peter