City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

May 10, 2017

May 9th

Filed under: Gambel's Oak — canopus56 @ 2:12 pm

Sister Oak

2:00 p.m. At Pleasant Valley, a favorite copse of Gambel’s oak, about 50 meters in diameter that sits on a western hillside has leafed-out at once. A week ago, it was bare. Such simultaneous leaf-out and abscission (leaf dropping) in a small tree grove is indicative that the trees are genetically identical. Back on February 14th, I speculated on whether Gambel’s oaks, like aspen trees, form large monoclonal groves. Gambel’s oak mostly reproduce asexually, but they switch back to sexual reproduction in response to a forest fire (Feb. 10th). Although many of the oak groves in the canyon have a 50 meter elliptical shape, as this grove does, along the Pipeline Trail, there are long stretches of slopes covered in dense unchanging oak trees. Between the beginning of the canyon at Guardhouse Gate and higher altitude groves at Pleasant Valley, there is a clear ordered geographic sequence of increasing dates of Gambel’s oak leaf-out as altitude increases. But the leaf-out in the higher copse and in lower larger groves of the oak occur in unison at each location.

The snow pack is completely gone from Little Black Mountain and is almost gone from Scott’s Hill. From the valley floor, it still remains on Grandview Peak.

* * * *

In response to an inquiry made back in February to the Utah Native Plant Society, a biologist-researcher responded on my speculation on whether Gambel’s oak could form monoclonal mega-plants like Utah’s aspen grove named Pando. Chalmers at the University of Utah and colleagues found a statistically significant association between the genotypes of eleven Gambel’s oak clumps about 12 meters in diameter at nearby Red Butte Canyon and their leaf abscission date, but no relationship was found between their geographical distance and their leaf-loss date (Chalmers at al 2015). One of the study’s researchers, Kohl at Utah State University, was perhaps being kind to me in suggesting that he could not rule out larger-sized genetically identical Gambel’s oak mega-plants, but he felt there was little possibility of obtaining funding to test the question.

* * * *

On May 9th, 1999, the successful completion of the Memory Grove Foundation’s program to repair monuments in City Creek Canyon was reported (Salt Tribune). On May 9th, 1907, Finacune, a nationally known boxer, arrived in Salt Lake to train in City Creek Canyon for a match set in Ogden (Salt Lake Telegram). Billy (William J.) Finacune (b. 1882) fought many title contenders around the turn of the century. During 1907, his last two fights were against Dick Hyland and Mugsey Shoals in Ogden, Utah.

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