P90602Not just any nuts, but precisely the sort that I recently discussed with a colleague, as I explained how they do not grow here. The nuts that is. The big thicket forming shrubs that are supposed to produce them not only grow here, but are a relatively common native. I just rarely see even a single nut on them. I sort of wondered how they mange to procreate with such rare seeds that invariably get taken by unconcerned rodents or birds.
They are the beaked hazelnut, Corylus cornuta. You can see why they are known as such. The elongated nut husks look like Big Bird. The very rare nuts within are quite small with good rich flavor, like hazelnut concentrate, and develop only on the biggest and most distressed old hazelnut shrubs.
However, the young and healthy hazelnut shrub that produced the nut in this picture actually produced quite a few. They were just not close enough to each other for me to get more than one in a picture. A few other young and healthy hazelnut shrubs are doing the same at the same time. There are more hazelnuts now than I have seen collectively in many years. I can not explain why.
Some species of oak tend to produce an overwhelming abundance of acorns every several years or so, only to limit acorn production for the several years in between such abundance. All trees of the same species within a region somehow know to do this collectively at the same time. They do not do it often, but when they do, they do it together.
The oaks who do this supposedly produce just enough acorn to sustain a healthy squirrel population without promoting overpopulation. When they occasionally produce an excess of acorns, the squirrels instinctively bury many more acorns than they normally would, just because the acorns happen to be available. Since the squirrels can not consume all that they bury, many more stay buried to germinate and grow into trees later.

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8 thoughts on “Aw NUTS!

  1. It would be really nice if the squirrels would stop burying the acorns ALL OVER my yard. This year was particularly bad, and I think it may be the same reason as the hazelnuts. We did get a lot of rain, and we had a really cool spring. I believe hazelnuts like cooler climates (bummer for me with it being so hot here). I’d love to grow them, but I just don’t think I’d ever get anything from them.

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  2. Hah! I’ve seen hazelnuts in their shell, but never with their fuzzy outer coating! I wonder if they (and the oaks) know how much to produce as a result of temperature and moisture — we had an unusually wet winter this year — and more intense temperatures to go with it. How interesting!

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    1. The weather is almost certainly what stimulates their overproduction, but finding the pattern is not easy. It is as if they wait for a particular weather pattern that they expect to be followed by a good spring for germinating acorns, but only exploit it if they have waited long enough to do so. I mean, that favorable winters and springs happen every few years or so, but nuts and acorns only over produce every several years or so. Not every favorable winter or spring stimulates over production.

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