[NAFEX] [Indiana Nut Growers] oaks
lucky.pittman at murraystate.edu
Mon Jan 9 10:28:15 EST 2006
Don Cobb, the NNGA Edible Oaks cultivar chairman, has shared a number of
low-tannin oak selections with me - all from the white oak group. One, in
particular, a Q.bicolor selection, 'Cobb Sweetie #2' was quite edible in
the 2000 crop - but fairly bitter in 2002...so, mere genetics may or may
not be the full story on tannin levels/bitterness, at least with the white
oak group - precipitation and other vagaries of climate or growing
conditions from year to year may have a pretty significant effect.
I noticed, this fall, that the local squirrels and deer ate the Southern
Red oak (Q.falcata) acorns as fast as they hit the ground, while the
white & chinkapin oak acorns(Q.alba & Q.muehlenbergii) lay on the ground,
more or less undisturbed, until all the Q.falcata acorns were consumed.
Don has sampled acorns from the original Ashworth bur oak, as well as
nearby seedlings(ostensibly seedlings of the original) - and in the year he
made his visit, acorns from one of the seedlings was significantly less
bitter than those from the Ashworth ortet. I have an Ashworth seedling in
my collection, but at ~ 8 yrs/10 ft, it appears to be declining
- twig/branch dieback, most of the way back to the trunk, was evident at
leaf-out last spring, with epicormic sprouting(new leaves/twigs popping out
along the main trunk). If it does similarly this spring, I may cut it back
to ground level, and see if it will regenerate from the root collar.
NAFEX's own Joe Hecksel offered up some Bebb's Oak (Q.x bebbiana, bur X
white) acorns last fall, and the bunch he sent me were quite
non-bitter. Don't know if anyone else availed themselves of that offer,
but they were nice!
Now, when I say non-bitter, I mean only that; thus far, I've not been able
to ascertain any particular memorable flavor for any of these acorns, they
just don't turn your mouth inside-out and make you spit profusely. I still
prefer a good hickory or pecan, for eating, but I like my oaks.
Linked below is an article, from Sam Thayer, on acorns which appeared in
the Summer 2003 POMONA:
Another good source of information, for anyone interested in oaks - whether
for mast production, or merely for their beauty - is the International Oak
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