Saturday, September 19, 2015

White Oaks are Having Their Babies

A few white oaks of my acquaintance have been dropping acorns since about September 4th.  I have held off declaring White Oak Season until today: more than half of the white oaks I can think of are now launching babies.  Squirrels are "rescuing" a significant fraction of these on most trees; in fact, though these kids have a low chance of survival in the paws of a squirrel, they have an even lower chance on the street, sidewalk or lawn.  Of the hundreds or thousands of acorns produced by a tree this year, perhaps one will survive to its first birthday.

At the end I'll help you tell white oak from other oaks.

Here is the development of acorns on a single branch around the corner from my house.

July 5th

July 31st

August 10th

August 31st

September 2nd

September 7th

Will a squirrels get these?  or the lawnmower?  September 9th

September 15th

What's the Difference?
Red oaks have been dropping acorns for weeks.  How are white oaks different?  White oak leaves have rounded lobes, while leaves of red, black and scarlet oaks all have pointed lobes with bristle tips.  Both white and red oaks have acorns with shallow cups covering only the end of the nut, but only white oaks have rough, corrugated caps; the others are smoothly covered with scales.  White oaks also have "sweeter" acorns that mature in the same year, while red oak acorns mature in their second year and so are very bitter due to tannin.

Rounded leaves and warty cap of white oak (Quercus alba) above; red oak (Quercus rubra),
with its pointed and bristle-tipped lobes (below),is nearly done dropping acorns.

 White oak cap (left) is sometimes described as "warty" to the red oak's "scaly."

Soon I will be experimenting with acorns as "wild" food!

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