And that is the reason for their worldwide success, says William Bryant Logon in the L.A. Times
But the oaks have never sought a niche. "Oaks have been so successful exactly because there is no reason that they are," Cornell University taxonomist Kevin Nixon said. "Restricted distribution happens because there is just one reason for a creature's success." This is a tantalizing idea. The persistent, the common, the various, the adaptable is valuable in itself. The oak's distinction is its insistence and its flexibility. It specializes in not specializing.
Our oak here is the Gambel oak, more of a thicket than a tree, definitely nothing special as individuals (unless you prune and fuss over one), but cheerfully coming up again and again after fire or cutting. (A tip of the acorn hat to Jason Pitzl-Waters)