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February 16, 2004

Arboretum hosts 'The Art of Saving Oaks'

By Flora Ling
UCSC Arboretum

A special exhibit and lecture series on saving native California oaks will open on Sunday, February 29, at the UCSC Arboretum.

Shreve Oak, by Pria Graves, is a Prismacolor pencil on paper.

The two-week exhibit offers the opportunity to view some of California's most talented artists working in watercolor, oil, pencil, and other media.

The show seeks to educate people about the dangers facing these stately trees, how to plant under oaks, and what people can do to prevent the spread of disease. The show will feature botanical art, informational displays, and a video and lectures on Sudden Oak Death.

Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a blight caused by an aggressive fungus-like pathogen, has killed trees of several oak species in coastal California, including coast live oak, black oak, Shreve oak, and tan oak. In other species, such as California bay laurel and rhododendron, the disease doesn't always kill. Instead, it produces spores on the infected host's foliage. Mortality commonly occurs where oaks and foliar hosts grow together.

Government regulations and inspections of some plants and nurseries have slowed but not stopped the spread of the disease. And gardeners, unaware of the perils of foliar dispersal, continue to plant host species next to vulnerable native oaks.

Several years ago, botanical artist MaryAnn Nardo conceived the idea of illustrating many of the plants identified as host species for the deadly disease. She recruited some of her fellow artists, and the first showing of the collection took place in Marin County in 2002. A second show was held at Filoli in Woodside. Now, the UCSC Arboretum will host "The Art of Saving Oaks" for the Monterey Bay region.

Many of the original pieces, plus some new work on the host species, are included in this third exhibition. The art show will run from Sunday, February 29, to Sunday, March 14. Hours are noon to 3 p.m. daily in the Arboretum's Horticulture II Building.

For the opening, Keyt Fischer, a conservation ecologist and SOD specialist, will talk about the disease and its effect on our landscape at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 29, in the Horticulture II Building. Glenn Keator, a botanist and author of The Life of an Oak, will give a lecture on oak woodlands on Sunday, March 7, also at 1:30 pm.

The talks are part of the Benefit Lecture series for the Arboretum; tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for Arboretum members. To purchase tickets in advance, call (831) 427-2998 by 5 p.m. Friday before each lecture. Gallery admission is free but the room will be closed during lectures.

For more information, call Stephen McCabe at (831) 427-2998 or visit the Arboretum web site.

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