Monday, December 15, 2008

Protect Your Nuts

I love trees, and I love oaks best of all. I'm not sure why I feel such an affinity for them, but I think it's mainly because they get so big, and that it takes so long for them to grow to their full maturity. An old oak represents a century or two of time's passing. It stands steady and unmoved while the tides of history ebb and flow around its roots. I never gave much thought, though, to the seedlings.

Back in the fall, while roaming around in the woods, I remarked to the hubby that we had all these oak trees and yet there wasn't a single acorn in sight. It seemed weird. Even a little creepy.

Then I read an article somewhere about how deer eat so many acorns that they are changing the balance of the forests from predominantly oak to maple. There are areas where conservationists are fencing off areas so that the nuts have a chance to sprout and mature, to try to preserve the species. With so many deer around here, I figured that solved the mystery of the missing acorns.

Not so. It seems there is a worrisome absence of acorns in general this year: Acorn Shortage Drives Scientists Nutty. Aside from the lack of new oak trees, this means trouble for deer, squirrels, turkeys, and other wildlife that depend on acorns to survive the winter.

Nobody knows yet if this is just an unusually light year following an unusually heavy one, or whether it signals a more deeply rooted environmental problem.

At the old house, there used to be dozens of ancient oaks around us, and the ground was littered with acorns in the fall. In spring, we'd pull up loads of oak seedlings as weeds in the flower beds and lawn. I wish now that I had potted some of them up to transplant into the woods.

I know it's late in the year to gather and plant acorns, but if you're lucky enough to have seedlings next spring, please treat them kindly. They may be among the last, precious few.

8 comments:

spookydragonfly said...

I enjoyed reading this post...I learned something here. I do see plenty of acorns scattered around our woods. Great post!

ramblingwoods said...

Protect your nuts eh...LOL..I don't have any of these trees nearby, but this is interesting info....

sallyacious said...

When I clicked on the link from your other blog, I read the title of this post as "Project: Your Nuts." I couldn't WAIT to read that post.

We have a beautiful oak tree in our front yard. In the five and a half years we've lived here, it's increased by about 1/3 in height and the trunk size has tripled. I haven't checked for acorns around it this year, and now that it is snowing with no signs of stopping, I'm not going to. I will just have to wait until spring.

MyMaracas said...

Spooky, I'm glad to hear your woods have lots of acorns. I'm hoping there's nothing to worry about.

Rambling and Sally ... ::wink:: Glad you liked the title. LOL

~ L said...

Somehow I stumbled upon your new blog. It's gorgeous & so is your new home. I hope you & your family have many happy years there. I'm so sorry to hear about your FIL.

MyMaracas said...

L, I'm so happy to see you here! Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words. Hope you're having a happy holiday!

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Hi MM, I found this an interesting post. I was thinking about our yard this year, and other years. Until this year, I hadn't noticed many acorns dropping from our oaks...and we have some in the front and the back yards. Big, old oaks. Well, this fall, it was like an acorn=storm, literally. So many dropped that I'm sure we will need to remove tons of them in the spring--because they dropped on the gardens! Although it's a nice idea, I don't think I'll be able to transplant the seedlings:( The funny thing is, I noticed them more this year than ever, because they stained my sidewalk all over it in rusty circles. That hadn't happened before. Maybe the concern is just in certain areas. Hopefully it isn't a trend that will last. Jan

MyMaracas said...

Hello, Jan, and welcome!

I'm happy to hear you had lots of acorns this year, though they seem to have been a little pesky. I hope as you do that this is just an odd year for them. What would we do without grand old oaks?