Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nuts About Nuts

It’s not just fall leaves that intrigue me this time of year.  I’m crazy about nuts too – specifically acorns - but I’ll pick up other nuts like hickory and pecan as well.  Wherever I am, I look for nuts this time of year for a variety of reasons.  First, I like to see how different they are.  Second, I like to try and figure out what kind they are.  And third, I like to take a few home to see if I can grow them!

Mostly I collect acorns in my neighborhood and the rural area that surrounds it.  It’s become a habit during my walks to look out for them in the fall.  This area has a rich collection of oaks – Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata), White Oak (Quercus alba), Post Oak (Quercus stellata), Water Oak (Quercus nigra), Red Oak (Quercus rubra) and Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) can all be found.  This year was such a “fruitful” year that I decided to photograph some of the ones I found.

Here are White Oak (Q. alba) acorns – always plump and glossy with a tendency to sprout quickly on the ground.  Note that the one with the holes is not viable.

These are Post Oak (Q. stellata) acorns – plucked right off a low hanging branch on the tree!

And these are Southern Red Oak (Q. falcata) acorns, more petite, not glossy, with a cap that has overlapping scales.

These are Scarlet Oak acorns with the overlapping scales similar to Quercus falcata above, but bigger overall in size and with distinctive rings around the endpoint (which helps to distinguish it from Quercus rubra).

Other places that I have found different acorns recently were Black Oak (Quercus velutina) and Scarlet Oak at the Georgia Botanical Society’s meeting at Pickett’s Mill Battlefield (State Park) in Dallas, GA, and also I found Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana or Q. prinus) at a rescue site in Canton, GA, and Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii) at a rescue site in Covington, GA.

Pictured here are Black oak (Q. velutina) acorns - note the slightly fringed look to the cap:


And what I believe to be Red oak (Q. rubra) acorns found on a rescue site in Canton:


The Swamp Chestnut Oak (Q. michauxii) acorns were HUGE – I could not believe how big they are.  Here is a picture of the biggest one (but the other ones were not much smaller) next to a quarter for perspective.


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