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.
In a classic imbalance of supply and demand, acorns pile up, covering the mulch on landscaped islands in the parking lots.
Grass struggles to survive through the press of acorns.
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.
These are the unintended consequences of using such a productive species of oak for urban landscaping.