The Wrong Acorns

[or, “How are Acorns Like Pizza?”]

On the sidewalk was a mystery. The evidence? The wrong acorns.

Neighborhood Black oaks are raining acorns onto the sidewalk. Normal, right? But each acorn has been bitten by a squirrel—just a mouthful taken from the top—and then discarded. For years I’ve wondered at this: not just at the extravagance of the waste, but at the species of acorn. It was the wrong one.

Continue reading “The Wrong Acorns”

Willow oak flowers

willow oak leaf bud burst
leaves just emerging

willow oak female flowers
in the leaf axils: female flowers (future acorns if fertilized)

Willow oak (Quercus phellos) leaves emerging.
Remember how the elms flowered and fruited first, and then leafed? Oaks let it all hang out at the same time. And unlike elms, oaks are helped by pollinating insects.

I’ve loved three willow oaks so far: Continue reading “Willow oak flowers”

See, Know Weevil

Acorn nurseries
Acorn nurseries

Shumard oak acorns, caps and a former resident.

I don’t have the patience to confirm these acorn cap scales are arranged in a Fibonacci sequence, but there is another marvel in the photo, and it is quicker to spot. See the pinhole in two of the shells? The hole tells squirrels and foragers we need not gather these acorns, because what remains inside is not a meal but a mealy powder. It’s the exit hole of an acorn weevil larva.  Continue reading “See, Know Weevil”