The Tanoak Tree: An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood

Hardcover | April 14, 2015

byFrederica Bowcutt

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Tanoak ( Notholithocarpus densiflorus) is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. People’s radically different perceptions of it have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, botanist Frederica Bowcutt uncovers a complex history of cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting the tree’s fate. Still valued by indigenous communities for its nutritious acorn nut, the tree has also been a source of raw resources for a variety of industries since white settlement of western North America. Despite ongoing protests, tanoaks are now commonly killed with herbicides in industrial forests in favor of more commercially valuable coast redwood and Douglas-fir. As one nontoxic alternative, many foresters and communities promote locally controlled, third-party certified sustainable hardwood production using tanoak, which doesn’t depend on clearcutting and herbicide use. Today tanoaks are experiencing massive die-offs due to sudden oak death, an introduced disease. Bowcutt examines the complex set of factors that set the stage for the tree’s current ecological crisis. The end of the book focuses on hopeful changes including reintroduction of low-intensity burning to reduce conifer competition for tanoaks, emerging disease resistance in some trees, and new partnerships among tanoak defenders, including botanists, foresters, Native Americans, and plant pathologists.

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Tanoak ( Notholithocarpus densiflorus) is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. People’s radically different perceptions of it have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, botanist Frederica Bow...

Frederica Bowcutt teaches botany in interdisciplinary programs at The Evergreen State College. She specializes in floristics, field plant ecology, and plant-centric environmental history.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.28 × 6.35 × 1 inPublished:April 14, 2015Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295994649

ISBN - 13:9780295994642

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Frank Kanawha LakeAcknowledgments

Introduction1. The Beautiful Tree2. Acorns3. Bark4. Weed5. Hardwood6. Plague7. Landscapes8. PartnershipsConclusions

NotesGlossaryBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Tanoak ( Notholithocarpus densiflorus) is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. People’s radically different perceptions of it have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, botanist Frederica Bowcutt uncovers a complex history of cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting the tree’s fate. Still valued by indigenous communities for its nutritious acorn nut, the tree has also been a source of raw resources for a variety of industries since white settlement of western North America. Despite ongoing protests, tanoaks are now commonly killed with herbicides in industrial forests in favor of more commercially valuable coast redwood and Douglas-fir. As one nontoxic alternative, many foresters and communities promote locally controlled, third-party certified sustainable hardwood production using tanoak, which doesn’t depend on clearcutting and herbicide use. Today tanoaks are experiencing massive die-offs due to sudden oak death, an introduced disease. Bowcutt examines the complex set of factors that set the stage for the tree’s current ecological crisis. The end of the book focuses on hopeful changes including reintroduction of low-intensity burning to reduce conifer competition for tanoaks, emerging disease resistance in some trees, and new partnerships among tanoak defenders, including botanists, foresters, Native Americans, and plant pathologists.This important book puts into historical context tanoak's current sudden oak death crisis. - Susan Frankel, plant pathologist, Pacific Southwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service