Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 16, 2009

From: Bulverde, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Why so many acorns in Houston?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My son's home in Houston has a Live Oak. This year it has dropped MILLIONs of the seed pods. This hasn't happened in the nine years of living there. Is anything wrong with it? It looks OK but he has raked up bags of them.

ANSWER:

There are any number of stories, legends and learned talk about why oaks seem to suddenly drop lots of acorns. These include wet weather, dry weather, hot weather, cold weather and squirrels chucking too many to the ground. From this arcytech.org website Interesting Facts About Oak Trees, 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."

Perhaps when your son first moved into his home, the live oak tree was still too young to produce much in the way of acorns. You will note in the material above that strong acorn accumulation might happen every 10 years. We would say that the tree is obviously healthy, or it wouldn't be able to produce all those acorns, and there probably won't be another drop like that for maybe another ten years. Bet you have happy squirrels.

 

 

More Trees Questions

Trees blooming white in Austin area
March 16, 2010 - 3/16/10 What are the trees that are blooming white in the Austin area. They are a full tree and very prolific in the area.
view the full question and answer

Dirt piled up around trunk of cypress tree in Lakeland FL
October 02, 2009 - I have a 30-40 foot cypress tree that has just started looking like it is dying..limbs on top are drooping badly. In April of this year we put probably 3 feet of dirt/clay around the bottom of it, wa...
view the full question and answer

Oak roots damaged by ax from Austin
July 03, 2013 - Hello. I am attempting to create my own tiny copy of the Wildflower Center within my yard. I'm using all native, drought tolerant plants. My front yard is full of live oaks. I used a sod cutter la...
view the full question and answer

Mulching tree root in San Angelo, TX
April 02, 2014 - San Angelo, Texas is in a drought stage. Will it help our trees to mulch the base of them?
view the full question and answer

Trees with non-invasive roots for California
March 30, 2009 - My family is currently in the process of redoing our entire yard. A huge task I might add! We had fruitless mulberries planted and one Modesto Ash. As much as we loved them we are hating their roots. ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.