En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Wednesday - November 03, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Seeds and Seeding, Trees
Title: Why all the acorns from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What's the explanation for the huge crop of acorns falling from my live oak trees this fall. Do you recommend I dump them in my composter or just throw them in the flower beds? Thanking you in advance for your response,

ANSWER:

From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer, we excerpted this information:

"Oak trees can start producing acorns when they are 20 years old, but sometimes can go all the way to 50 years for the first production. By the time the tree is 70 to 80 years old it will produce thousands of acorns.

The oak trees produce acorns once a year during the fall. Acorn production varies year to year and normally alternates. Not even the healthiest and largest oak can accumulate enough food and energy to produce strong crops two years in succession. Real strong acorn productions might happen every four to ten years. In addition, a late spring frost can blight the flowers which prevents acorn development. Droughts and insect ravages can decimate crops.

Acorn production will increase year after year; following a similar pattern as the size of the tree's canopy. Production starts very slowly at around the 25th year, the number of acorns produced then accelerates, and when the tree reaches about 100 years of age, it starts slowing down until it reaches a yearly production of about 2,200 acorns per year."

You may be experiencing the every 4 years or every 10 years cycles of acorn-bearing for your oak. As for composting or putting into flower beds, no and no. When your probably very happy squirrels have gathered all they want, we suggest you dispose of the acorns. What you don't want is volunteer oaks coming up in your compost (which probably won't get hot enough to kill the seeds/acorns) and your flower beds.

 

 

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

When to seed a native grass lawn in a drought area?
December 15, 2011 - I want to plant a native grass lawn. It is raining now. Can I plant it in December? It might not be raining in the spring if the drought continues.
view the full question and answer

Abundance of acorns from Wimberley TX
November 22, 2013 - We have lived in Wimberley since 1999 and this is the first time we have had such a huge abundance of acorns on our Oak trees, which is surprising considering the drought we have been in the last few ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Sophora gypsophila from seed
April 23, 2008 - Sophora gypsophila B.L. Turner & Powell Do you have any information on growing this small tree from seed? I have a few seeds and would like to try. What conditions break seed dormancy? I have grown ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Baptisia from Lancaster OH
August 24, 2012 - My Baptisia has gone to seed. When can I plant these seeds? Do they need strat? (zone 5)
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native Centipede grass
February 27, 2013 - My lawn is Centipede. I have created a new lawn area. Can and when should I seed/overseed my lawn? I have Rye in the new area.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center