You sit outside on the deck enjoying your morning coffee and you get bopped in the head. You stroll around your yard checking out the flowers and shrubs and you get bopped in the head. You do nothing more than walk out to check the mail, and yup, you get bopped in the head. Welcome to acorn season in the south!
Upstate Oak Trees
Several different varieties of oaks (Quercus species) thrive here in the Upstate. And while they may grow to different heights, different spreads, and have different leaf shapes, sizes and patterns, one thing they all have in common is they all produce acorns.
- It always seems to be either boom or bust for the amount of acorns produced and no one has been able to figure out why. Boom years are called mast years and generally come around every 24 to 60 months. In between those years, oak trees will continue to produce acorns, but in very limited amounts.
- Predators including squirrels, chipmunks, blue jays and deer relish the autumn windfall of acorns as they are a major dietary staple leading up to the colder winter months. During the years of lean production these predators will generally gravitate to other areas seeking food sources. So while it may seem as though it’s been a plentiful acorn season, it’s only because fewer animals are around to eat them.
- It’s not unusual for a large oak tree to produce over 10,000 acorns in a mast year. But not all the seedlings will thrive. Because acorns are heavier than most seeds, they end up falling under the canopy of the parent tree, and that lack of light keeps the acorn from germinating. That’s when “seed dispersal agents” aka squirrels and chipmunks begin the job of hoarding and the uneaten acorns that get moved have a chance of sprouting. Depending on the species it can take an acorn anywhere from between 6 to 24 months to mature.
- While acorns are safe for human consumption they aren’t something that humans readily eat. Acorns are definitely plentiful and they store well as long as they are kept dry. But they are difficult to process and really don’t have much flavor. Acorns are low in calories, high in protein, iron and potassium, and also high in tannins which have to be leached out of the acorn meat before eating. Because of the work involved and the lack of flavor, acorn meat is generally ground into flour or meal, and used as a base for more savory ingredients.
That’s a Lot of Acorns
On average an oak tree can live around 200 years, though some like the Angel Oak in Charleston, SC is estimated to be between 300 to 400 years old. That’s a lot of acorns to deal with! So if you’re ready to have your oaks trimmed, pruned or perhaps even have one that needs to be completely removed, there is no time like the present to call Eric with Out on a Limb Tree Service at 864-320-8787. Or you can always connect with us via email at email@example.com, or simply use our convenient online form.