"...deep alluvium at the mouths of canyons that drain into the sea. These rich soils overlay the broad, uplifted terraces of coastal valleys such as the Russian River, Santa Clara, Salinas, Santa Ynez, and Santa Ana. The live oak woodlands of the Santa Barbara plain and the massive trees of Mission Canyon are typical of this species at its best. Coast live oak also grows on rolling hills formed from ancient coastal sand dunes. Such porous soils, however, are lower in nutrients and retain little moisture during summer. As a result, oak woodlands occur here as clumps of small trees separated by large patches of open grassland."
Cited from Bruce Pavlik's Oaks of California for a blog meme explained by EAL thusly: "[G]rab the book closest to hand—no cheating—turn to page 56, choose the 5th sentence down, and post the results, including other lines if necessary to provide context."
I thumb through this book at night sometimes before bed, trying to glean a better understanding of California's oaks. We have 9 tree oaks--5 deciduous & 4 evergreen--and 11 species of shrub oak. I have a little cutting propagule of shrub oak Quercus berberidifolia growing in a pot down in the garden.
The Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) is most common in my area and as far as I'm concerned the best place to see them is the campus of my alma mater, UC Santa Cruz, sited in a mixed oak-redwood forest.
I would be content if I could learn to easily identify just a few other California oaks--Valley, Blue, and Black--but the book is little help. Basically it says oaks are very variable and hybridize freely; identifying them can be hard. Well...heck.
I took a winter walk in an oak woodland last December.