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Country diary: a mast year for the mighty oak

Old Sulehay, Northamptonshire: Acorns the size of artillery shells lie strewn underneath the autumnal foliageThe eastern entrance to Old Sulehay forest is roofed by great oaks, still canopied with autumnal foliage, in contrast to the bare ash, hazel and field maple. The ground underneath crunches with a layer of swollen acorns. There are more than I can ever recall seeing - a magnificent acorn bounty repeated in reports from across England. And the size of them! More like artillery shells than nuts. This is what we call a mast year.Mast is a traditional term for nuts produced by trees in the beech family - including oaks and sweet chestnuts, but also hazel (which has now been reclassified as a birch). Oak and beech go for several years producing small crops and then, boom, all the trees of the species, at sub-continental scales, are laden. The frequency of these mast years varies, sometimes every seven to 10 years, and then quickening like a heartbeat to every two or three years; consecutive mast years are fabled, but rare. Continue reading...
Zdroj: The Guardian

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