The root of all evil

We have been battling with a most vexatious weed in our yard. It seems capable of propagating anywhere, sprouting to a couple feet in height with incredible speed and agility. Its tenacious roots anchor defiantly in the soil, making it almost impossible to pull out. Grabbing the thing isn’t easy, either. It defies hand-to-hand combat, defending its turf with prickly, contorted leafs that get the message out to keep your distance.

Meanwhile, our little quarter-acre lot is run rampant with squirrels. And from the looks of things, they are as healthy and happy as can be. They’re going nowhere, content to obliviously dig up newly seeded grass or uproot lovingly planted flowers. They’re on a frantic mission to bury (and subsequently forget) their nutty treasures.

It took awhile, but we finally made the connection between the “weeds" and the squirrels. And I’m somewhat embarrassed to even admit it, given I have been living in California nearly my entire adult life and should be at least nominally acquainted with the native vegetation. But thanks to modern technology (i.e. a newly installed app on the phone) we were able to photograph and identify the plant.

It turns out the “weed” is actually quercus agrifolia, otherwise known as Coast Live Oak. These plants clearly haven’t been taking root of their own accord. They have had a little help from their bushy-tailed friends.

Our own mini-ecosystem in action.

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So we took the time to laboriously replant one of the oak trees. We’ll see how well it grows with a bit of kindness instead of hostility.

Our enemy has become our friend, now that we have been educated to overcome our ignorance of what was once considered a foreign intruder.


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