In a Nutshell: Oak Tree and Acorn Facts

Learn about oak tree and acorn facts, including the lifecycle of acorns, how acorns feed wildlife, nutrients in acorns and a list of oak tree varieties.

| October/November 2003

  • Discover oak tree and acorn facts you might not have known.
    Discover oak tree and acorn facts you might not have known.
    MARK MOFFETT/MINDEN PICTURES
  • Many critters, including the gray squirrel, crave the good stuff in acorns: protein, carbohydrates and fat.
    Many critters, including the gray squirrel, crave the good stuff in acorns: protein, carbohydrates and fat.
    MARESA PRYOR
  • The acorn woodpecker's handiwork. In autumn, the birds drill holes into trees and tightly stash acorns for winter; the acorns are so snug that even squirrels can't pry them out.
    The acorn woodpecker's handiwork. In autumn, the birds drill holes into trees and tightly stash acorns for winter; the acorns are so snug that even squirrels can't pry them out.
    DAVID CAVAGNARO
  • An acorn lies on the ground beneath an oak tree.
    An acorn lies on the ground beneath an oak tree.
    DAVID CAVAGNARO

  • Discover oak tree and acorn facts you might not have known.
  • Many critters, including the gray squirrel, crave the good stuff in acorns: protein, carbohydrates and fat.
  • The acorn woodpecker's handiwork. In autumn, the birds drill holes into trees and tightly stash acorns for winter; the acorns are so snug that even squirrels can't pry them out.
  • An acorn lies on the ground beneath an oak tree.

Learn about oak tree and acorn facts and how this tree nut provides food for a wide variety of wildlife.

Magnificent oak trees and their acorns sustain countless wild creatures.

BLAM! BONK-BLAM! BLAM! For days on end at our house, this is early autumn's tune — a slow, staccato solo for pickup-truck percussion in A (for annoying) minor. No matter where I move my truck in our tree-covered driveway it sits beneath an oak, and acorns come raining down on it like oversized hailstones on a tin roof.

As startling as each resounding impact is to me, it must be a truly jarring experience for the little weevil larva curled inside the meat-filled shell. By summer's end many acorns carry the larvae, one to a nut, deposited as eggs in tiny pinholes drilled by feeding adult weevils. The jolt of an acorn's fall to the ground signals to the larva that the time has come to bore its way out of the shell. Once hatched, the larva burrows as much as a foot deep into the soil, where it remains for up to five years before pupating and emerging as a full-grown acorn-sucking beetle. The slam against unforgiving truck metal has to be a whole different kind of wake-up call.



Equally as eye-opening to biologists and ecologists, though, is the reverberating environmental impact of acorns — the countless billions that land with a gentle thud, and a collective bang, on soil and leaf litter from coast to coast. Scientists are only beginning to unravel the extraordinarily complex interplay between plants, wildlife and acorns in woodland ecosystems.

Oak Tree and Acorn Facts

Like other nuts, an acorn is a seed, an embryonic tree-to-be wrapped in a hard shell. But only the lower end of an acorn's innards is occupied by a rudimentary root and stem; the rest is nutritive tissue loaded with protein, carbohydrates and fat. Its purpose is to sustain a sprouting seedling until the infant grows green leaves and can stock its own larder via photosynthesis. But far more often than not, a forest creature gobbles the nut and its stored nutrients first.

Paulbarthle
10/15/2018 9:13:33 AM

I've often wondered if heavy bearing individual trees could be used to graft onto young seedlings to boost production? Hog farmers might benefit if the mast boom/ bust cycle could be mediated, as could landowners managing hunting leases. Even if the cycle cannot be changed, getting younger trees into production quickly would help support wildlife and silviculture practitioners.


EGreen
10/14/2018 10:43:37 AM

Thanks for the informative article. Regarding thinning of trees, I suggest the author of this article and all readers who are interesting in learning much more about trees and forests. read the book " The Hidden Life of Trees" by master forester Peter Wohlleben. Without going in to great detail, he posits that thinning trees isn't good for the rest of trees, plants, and animals in the forest. He strongly suggests, with very knowledgeable and informative argument, that thinning is a bad procedure and has negative impacts not only on the trees, but on the entire ecosystem within the forest.


EGreen
10/14/2018 10:43:36 AM

Thanks for the informative article. Regarding thinning of trees, I suggest the author of this article and all readers who are interesting in learning much more about trees and forests. read the book " The Hidden Life of Trees" by master forester Peter Wohlleben. Without going in to great detail, he posits that thinning trees isn't good for the rest of trees, plants, and animals in the forest. He strongly suggests, with very knowledgeable and informative argument, that thinning is a bad procedure and has negative impacts not only on the trees, but on the entire ecosystem within the forest.






Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters