The clever strategy that oak trees use

[P6 Science - Mutations] Acorns. That word may give you the impression of a type of nut that squirrels often pick up and eat in a live action series, or a cartoon.


Acorns (or in some countries the oaknut) are, essentially, the seed of an oak tree. They're called acorns because in the past, people spelled oaks as "acs" in Þe Olde English. When you refer to acorns, you're referring to the corn of the ac trees; thus, ac-corns. Later on, we realised that simplifying the words by merging the 'c' in both words helped with saving space and optimising, thus the modern acorn.


But we're not here to talk about the gradual transformation of language. Today, we're here to learn about mast years, and how the oak tree cleverly deceives its predator, the squirrel, into helping its offsprings germinate.





Yes, the oak trees, cicadas and other similar examples take advantage of a phenomenon known as oversaturation. Imagine if, for one whole week, the supermarkets stopped marketing/selling anything except for potatoes; everyone would be able to eat French fries and baked potatoes and gratins to their hearts' delight, and even to the point where they got sick of it.


If the supermarkets did that, there would clearly be leftover potatoes on its shelves which go untouched. Those leftover potatoes would be untouched by predators (customers frequenting the supermarket) and have a chance to sprout into a potato plant. The oak trees are essentially doing exactly what I described - By overfeeding the predators, some of its young have a chance to grow into their own trees.

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