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Believe it or Nut!

Posted on October 7, 2022

Leaves aren’t the only source of crunchiness under your shoes this time of year…..

Scattered throughout the splash of fallen autumn color, one can find a variety of acorns, bitternuts, and hickory nuts. This food source is in high demand, but what makes them a fall favorite amongst native wildlife? 

Shelled fruits such as acorns, bitternuts, and hickory nuts are commonly referred to as “hard-mast crops” produced by “hard-mast producers”. Hard-mast producers are woody flora like oaks, beech, and hickory trees. The high protein and fat content makes these fruits an essential part of winter preparation for local fauna. Another benefit to these shelled fruits is they are non-perishable and can be eaten throughout the winter.  

 During the warmer months, “soft-mast producers” such as blueberry, elderberry, and crab apples produce fruit high in sugar and moisture to accommodate drought-like conditions and higher temperatures. 

An abundance or lack of fruit can indicate that a significant seasonal pattern out of the norm is approaching. With a La Niña brewing on the horizon, it should be no surprise that many tree nuts can be found throughout our preserves as the temperatures continue to drop.