Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Collecting Acorns

Fall is creeping in. You can see it now and again, bits of red and yellow slowly bleeding down the tips of Maple branches. And while the Oaks are still as green as July it's definitely acorn season. You can hear them falling and bouncing off the roof and deck. The fall makes a "crack" so loud that it's woken me from a sound sleep. We live in an area where the dominant tree is the Northern Red Oak or White Oak so named for their timber not their leaf. In the fall, they are usually the last trees to loose their leaves. Sometimes they'll hold onto them through winter and we'll have a whole episode of raking and blowing again once the snow melts in the spring. But the Oaks are my favorite in the fall. Not because of their brilliant color, in fact most of our Oaks turn a dull, caramel brown~ no I love Oak Trees because of their acorns.
I'm fascinated by acorns. They are so perfect! It's like tiny elves turned these little gems out on wood lathes and scattered them around on the forest floor. Every fall I collect them by the dozens, all different sizes and shapes and colors. Some are green with thick rhiney caps, some are a deep rich reddish brown color.
We have two huge, old Northern Red Oaks on the front yard that produce acorns over an inch in length.

Every year I try to find the largest one.

These trees are from old growth forest and grow more like celery stalks with the trunks being mostly bare and the canopy dense at the top. You can stand under these trees in a moderate rain and never feel a drop.

The White Oak (on right) sheds a more dainty leaf with rounded leaf tips, it's acorn is more bullet shaped, longer and more cylindrical and many times falls without it's cap. The cap itself is more fleshy and covers more of the acorn in a rounded way.

The Northern Red Oak (on left) sheds a wider, flatter leaf with pointed tips. Its acorn is more globular with a flat cap and a wide base.
The largest acorn that exists comes from the Bur Oak. They can be baseball sized and come in a tufted cap that grows around the acorn. To see a good image visit http://www.mamaroots.com/my_weblog/2009/11/soup-and-bikes.html scroll down a bit once you're there.
Evidently there are ways of baking and extracting a flour type material that can be added to breads, or stews. I recommend researching this before consuming because I've heard that some acorns can hold a toxin? The edible ones are supposed to be extremely high in fat but quite nutritious. Check out this website to find out more http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/clay79.html

1 comment:

Camille said...

I have never eaten one, but I hear they are very yummy. Plus the tops make great fairy hats!

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