Why the Oak Trees are Going Nuts (haha)

Brian Jordan ’10 wants everyone to know he hates the acorns. He tipped us to this article explaining why this year they’re especially abominable:

“In the chestnut oaks, we are having a huge crop,” said Joan Feely, curator of native plants at the National Arboretum. Scientists generally believe that the phenomenon is a key survival strategy for oaks and that it may take several years for an oak to build up enough nutrient reserves to seed heavily. The irregular cycles thwart pests and predators by producing an occasional crop too large for them to consume.

Another theory is that the oaks may be seeding heavily because of prior stress from pests or drought, and masting is used as one factor in assessing a tree’s health, said Eric Wiseman, a professor of urban forestry at Virginia Tech.

Wiseman said he has also seen masting in other types of trees this year in southwest Virginia, including hickory, walnut and beech.

Whatever the origins of the phenomenon, it is likely to lead to a fat and happy winter for all manner of foragers, including squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bears, turkeys, geese and crows.

So what does that mean for next year? Probably bigger squirrels. Big, fat squirrels who can fly at supersonic speed and forage at the speed of light. And sing A cappella. Fucking sicknasty supersquirrels.

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