Quercus acutissima – Brief Fall Update

In the Falls Lake game lands, the Sawtooth Oaks (Quercus acutissima) have dropped large numbers of their acorns by late October.  A ten minute search through grass and leaf litter finds only 3 seeds; all the rest of the hundreds of acorns on the ground are empty caps, a tribute to the efficiency (and numbers) of the Whitetail Deer and other game that feast here.

But only several miles from Falls Lake, in the surrounding suburban parking lots, the oak version of carpet-bombing leaves acorns everywhere.

Quercus acutissima Tires Crunch Through Hundreds of Acorns

Quercus acutissima
Tires Crunch Through Hundreds of Acorns

In a classic imbalance of supply and demand, acorns pile up, covering the mulch on landscaped islands in the parking lots.

Quercus acutissima Acorns Cover the Mulch on the Landscape Islands

Quercus acutissima
Acorns Cover the Mulch on the Landscape Islands

Grass struggles to survive through the press of acorns.

Quercus acutissima Piles of Acorns Blot Out the Grass

Quercus acutissima
Piles of Acorns Blot Out the Grass

Most of the seeds are still present in or near the caps. The few birds and squirrels that feed on the acorns can’t make a dent in the huge numbers.

Quercus acutissima Acorns With Uneaten Seeds

Quercus acutissima
Acorns With Uneaten Seeds

These are the unintended consequences of using such a productive species of oak for urban landscaping.

Herb Amyx

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