Sweet Acorn Oaks

Some Native Americans in California relied heavily on acorns as a valued food source. The people that are now referred to as Ohlone managed the environment to the benefit of acorn production. Acorns have historically been an important food source for people where ever oaks have grown. I have read that in Spain and Italy acorns provided up to 20 percent of the diet of some populations in the 19th century. Oaks can live for centuries and can be a valuable source of food for people, livestock and wildlife.

15 year old Quercus macrocarpa ‘Kreider’

About 20 years ago I planted a seedling of a bur oak selection called ‘Kreider’. The original tree came from Illinois where it had been found to be the producer of large low tannin acorns. Tannins are the chemicals that give a bitter taste to some acorns. I have eaten acorns from this tree and find them to taste starchy and bland........ similiar to eating grains of wheat.

maturing Kreider acorns

This tree produces acorns every year but the heaviest crops are every other year. The tree shape is more like an apple tree than what our native Bur Oaks look like. I have pruned its lower branches so that it is easier to brush hog around the tree. I have found that its horizontal branching and late leaf drop makes it prone to early snow damage. I believe our local oaks growth habit and leaf drop timing has survival value in our climate.

Quercus macrocarpa ‘Ashworth’

Ashworth is the second Bur Oak selection that I planted and it started to produce acorns at a young age like Kreider. Ashworth isn’t as productive as Kreider and the acorns are a little smaller and harder to get out of the cap. Ashworth is a selection that was found in New York State and has a growth habit like that of our local bur oaks. The deer just love the acorns of this tree! I have a hard time collecting its acorns ahead of the deer and end up picking most of them right from the tree. As you can see I have used a grass trimmer around the tree so that acorn collection is made easier.

Ashworth acorns

vigorously growing Q. alba x Q. bicolor

I planted a Q. alba x Q. bicolor oak in honor of the birth of my niece Kate. This tree probable is my favorite oak due to it’s wonderful shape, fast growth, attractive leaves and acorn production. The speed of which it is growing is amazing, you can practically hear it pushing the soil aside as the roots expand into surrounding the soil! This tree is growing on the side of my mother’s driveway and I have many of it’s seedlings growing here at Beech Hill. This tree produces sweet acorns that are large and produced them every other year.

acorns of Q. alba x Q. bicolor

seedlings of Q. alba x Q. bicolor