Nine months after the 2005 Topanga Fire, this Valley Oak* in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve continues the slow process of recovery. The clumps of leaves are the result of epicormic sprouting, where new sprouts grow from dormant buds along the branches, or the trunk, of a tree.
The dense semi-spherical clusters are probably an adaptation that helps to create a more normal leaf environment during foliage replacement. In effect, the assemblage appears to create a scaled down crown.
The Live Oak, which generally resides in a drier, more hostile environment than the Valley Oak, produces (at least in some cases) epicormic sprouts with dense pendant masses of light-colored foliage with much-reduced leaves. These parasitic looking appendages gradually transform into normal branches and foliage.
The Eucalyptus sprouts from cracks in the trunk, and in just a few months can produce a substantial amount of replacement foliage.
*Some oaks in the Laskey Mesa area may be hybrids of Blue and Valley Oaks.