Monday, October 22, 2007

2,200 Acorns and Counting

The California Live Oak tree in our backyard is truly the star of the show around here. By my measurement, our oak tree's trunk has a diameter of ten feet. The oak tree stands within inches of a palm tree. From our perspective, the palm tree may as well be a utility pole, since I can's see the top from my yard or home. Least we forget the palm tree is there, it reminds us periodically by sending dead frongs crashing down into our yard or house like a missile.

A tree specialist once told me that the reason you see lots of palm trees right next to oak trees is that birds hang out in the palm tree and drop the oak acorns onto the surrounding ground. I have seen a few palm tree/oak tree combinations in Claremont where the two trunks were actually interwoven. Given that the oak is native to the region, I would have thought the bird would have been sitting in the oak and dropped a palm seed, but apparently the reverse is true.

This year we have had many more acorns than any year before. We hear them dropping out of the tree day and night. It dawned on me that this might be a bad thing, given the rash of sudden oak death and the drought, so I was doing some research. Turns out that a wealth of acorns is actually the sign of a truly healthy tree. I suppose it's to be expected given the drought-loving, and often over-watered oak. According to this informative article, acorn production varies from year to year. Acorn production typically doesn't start until the 25th year of the oak, and then rises steadily until the oak hits 100 years old, at which time acorn production levels off at 2,200 acorns a year.

Perhaps our oak is even older than our 96 year old house, beause I am thinking we are definitely at the 2,200 mark.


John Clifford said...

Gee, our house is only 71 years old and our two oak trees are literally raining acorns at the moment. I was suspicious that the squirrels might be throwing them at us, but then I might just be paranoid.

Truly, though, the acorn crop this year is at an all-time high.

John Clifford said...

Ooops, make that 76 years for the house. Math is not my long suit.

Mark said...

We sit our back yard and look up at your palm tree.
Many times we have seen a gigantic hawk that seems to use it as a vantage point. We also use it for wind verification (yes, it's windy... No, it's not)
I would love to know it's age.

me said...

Well I am so glad that you find our palm tree useful. Especially since if it fell, it seems to favor going in your direction! (or at least this is what we tell ourselves in order to be able to sleep at night). An incredibly huge hawk came onto our porch while we were eating chicken tikka masala this summer. I had no idea he spent time in the palm tree. I thought he only lived at the park.