Most Active Stories
- Former UNH Student Goes It Alone In Criminal Court, Wins 'Not Guilty' Verdict
- Update: Speaker Demands Apology For Abortion Remark During Debate Over Fourth Graders' Bird Bill
- Spring Book Picks 2015
- Report: Former Chief Justice Banned From UNH Law's Rudman Center
- After Six Generations, Making Sure The Family Farm Stays A Farm Forever
Fri October 11, 2013
Of Seeds, Trees, & Squirrels
For homeowners, the floating, spinning or tumbling tree seeds that collect on lawns, patios, gutters and driveways require raking or sweeping. Those "pesky" shade trees! Yet consider the tremendous wildlife food source and genetic wealth that seed crops represent, particularly cyclical acorn crops in NH!
Like a squirrel, I began searching for acorns in late summer. The results were inconclusive. Not a bumper acorn crop this year, but a heavy beechnut crop has been reported locally. Lately, there seems to be more regional variability than any reliable statewide trends.
The most prolific annual seed producers are the sun-loving "pioneer" tree species: gray birch, white birch and poplar. These fast-growing and relatively short-lived species produce 1 to 4 million tiny, wind-borne seeds in every pound! By comparison, white pines produce 26,000 seeds per pound and sugar maple produce only 7,000 larger winged seeds per pound.
A much greater overall investment per seed is made by nut-producers: beech and oak. Beech trees pack an average of 1,600 beechnuts per pound. Red oak only 125 acorns per pound. Contrast their seed strategy to the millions of wind-borne seeds of aspen and birch scattered like plankton to the wind.
Seeds are the genetic vault of tree traits for an as-yet unborn forest! Seeds of sun-loving pin cherry and black raspberry remain viable in the soil for a century… Or sometimes they merely feed hungry birds and squirrels!