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I collected fallen acorns from a white oak tree in Toronto, Ontario, in mid-September 2023. The acorns were germinating at the time, so I planted them (in a cage to protect them from rodents).

So far, only roots have grown, no leaves. Is it normal for only roots to grow in this case, saving leaf growth for the spring?

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  • $\begingroup$ All seeds start by putting down roots, which allow the first set of leaves to absorb water/swell, splitting the seed capsule. How much time this takes depends on conditions, but it's weeks for acorns, not months. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2023 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse It's Nov 13 and still no leaves: i.stack.imgur.com/CUxic.jpg $\endgroup$
    – User1974
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ Clearly they have germinated, so that's good. Is it very cold? is there sufficient moisture? I don't know how many weeks, but if you like, you can google the time span for the Toronto area. Maybe (maybe) it's different up there? $\endgroup$ Nov 13, 2023 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse You might find Falko's answer interesting. And my comment on that answer to. $\endgroup$
    – User1974
    Jan 13 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ Nice to know. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Jan 13 at 2:38

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Nice that you started observing so early, so I can complete this here while learning something. I usually only get aware of the new oaks when stem and leaves are sprouting in the lawn, and, yes, that's in spring. I always asked myself why they already have such a large root. This makes it clear.

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    $\begingroup$ I brought the pot of acorns into the house a couple of months ago. To be honest, I forget why; maybe to protect from freezing temps. I dug up one of the acorns just now to see how much roots it had. And I removed the acorn's shell to see how it looked inside. Here's a photo. i.stack.imgur.com/nxZqj.jpg It's hard to tell, but the main root actually broke off when I dug it up. So it was likely a few inches longer. Also, here's a photo of my pot/cage setup: i.stack.imgur.com/bID5L.jpg. I screw the wire waste basket onto the bucket to protect the actorns from mice, squirrels, etc. $\endgroup$
    – User1974
    Jan 13 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ A friend took some of the acorns at exactly the same time/place. But he planted his indoors right away. Here's a photo from Oct 14, 2023: i.stack.imgur.com/OXHVn.jpg. His leafed out, I guess due to the warm conditions. $\endgroup$
    – User1974
    Jan 13 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ @User1974 - Oooo, nice little oak there! $\endgroup$ Jan 13 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder. Generally it seems that acorns, as chestnuts, don't survive a dry out. So these are seeds that work differently than, say, peas or corn. I don't know any general distinction of plant groups along this difference. Yet :-) $\endgroup$
    – Falko
    Jan 13 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse and Falko: The acorns/roots now have leaves (indoors): i.stack.imgur.com/5A6Yv.jpg $\endgroup$
    – User1974
    Feb 14 at 17:55

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