Acorns stand out among nuts, holding a secret inside. Like buried treasure, they cradle seeds, making them more than your average snack. Yet, it’s their hardy shell that puts them in the nut club.

Acorns come from oak trees. Many species of oak trees produce acorns. The acorns can be planted to grow into oak trees.

What Tree Does an Acorn Come From

Are acorns edible

Yes, acorns are edible. They can be roasted, eaten whole, ground into flour, or oil extracted from them. However, raw acorns have tannins that are toxic to human beings. You have to leach the tannins before you can eat the acorns.

Acorns are abundant, rich in antioxidants, and are thought to improve gut health. However, eating acorns can cause allergies.

Types of acorns

There are as many types1 of acorns as there are oak trees. There are over 90 oak tree species and each produces acorns.

  • Acorns from red oaks have overlapping scales and saucer-shaped caps.
  • Acorns from red oaks mature after two seasons while those from white oaks take two seasons to mature. The red oaks need a dormancy period which slows their maturation.
  • Acorns from black oaks are bowl-shaped and spiky.
  • The caps of white oak acorns are bowl-shaped and have bumps on their surface.
  • Other oak tree types, such as the Northern Red Oak produce egg-shaped acorns.
Types of acorns

Uses of acorns

When acorns mature, they fall to the ground. A single oak tree can drop thousands of acorns. Here are some ideas of how you can use the acorns.

  • Eat. Acorns are food2 for both humans and wildlife animals. While human beings do not eat acorns that much, nut eaters in the wild love them.
  • Seeds of oak trees. If you want an oak tree in your garden, plant an acorn.
  • You can use them for decoration or create an art piece.
  • Play with them.

What impacts the productivity of oak trees

The productivity of oak trees varies every year. In some years, the oak trees produce thousands of acorns. In other years, the acorns are rarely seen. Several factors impact the productivity of an oak tree. They include:

Weather and climatic conditions in the location of the oak tree

The weather is the greatest determinant of how productive an oak tree is. In favorable weather, oak trees are more productive. Good weather allows the oak tree to fruit in time. It also enables more fruit to be produced.

When the good weather persists, the fruits of the oak tree mature into acorns. When they are fully mature, the acorns will start falling off the trees. The older the oak tree, the more acorns you can expect it to drop.

Age of the oak tree

The older the oak tree, the larger it is. Therefore, it has deeper roots than a younger tree, and the more acorns it may produce it can get more nutrients due to its deep roots.

How does an acorn turn into an oak tree?

  1. Collect acorns that drop from oak trees. Only collect mature acorns. The young acorns may not germinate.
  2. Collect the acorns as soon as they are dropped. Acorns dry up fast. You can only plant and expect germination from freshly fallen acorns. Also, do not pick damaged acorns or those with holes.
  3. Plant the acorns as soon as they fall from the tree. If you do not, keep them in an airtight bag and do not allow them to dry.
  4. All acorns must be planted in the fall. Plant them in a pot before you can transplant them into the garden. Water them regularly.
  5. When they germinate and start growing, snip and cut with scissors to keep the seedlings thin.
  6. When the oak tree seedlings are five to six inches tall, or if the roots touch the side of the pot, transplant them into a larger planting pot.
  7. When the roots get too deep for the larger pot you can now transplant them to the garden. Dig a hole as deep as the pot and three times its diameter. Add manure and mulch into the hole and pour water on them. Transfer the oak tree seedling to the ground. Make a firm fence around it to protect it from grazers.
  8. In four to five years, the seedling will have grown into an oak sapling. With time, it will then grow into a tree and start producing acorns. Oak trees can live for hundreds of years producing acorns every year in favorable weather.
How does an acorn turn into an oak tree

Are acorns nuts or fruits?

Acorns are nuts. It consists of a cap, a tough outer shell, and a kernel within the shell. Depending on the species, acorns mature in six months to two years.

An acorn is also a seed that can grow into an oak tree under the right conditions.

When do acorns fall?

Oak trees start to produce acorns when they are about 20 years old. However, its peak production3 period is between the ages of 50 and 80 years. Oak trees older than 80 may not produce acorns. They can live for hundreds of years.

Oak trees that have high canopies produce the most acorns. They can easily reach the sun which promotes the fruiting and growth of acorns.

Mast years

Mast or masting years are the years when oak trees have bumper harvests. It occurs every two to five years.

Masting years are determined by the weather. The more favorable the weather, the better the productivity of the oak trees.

Do oak trees produce acorns every year?

Oak trees produce acorns depending on the weather. Good weather leads to a high production of acorns. In years when the weather is not favorable, there is little to no yield of acorns.

Even so, most oak tree species produce acorns every two to three years. The exception is the white oak tree which produces acorns every four to six years.

Factors affecting the production of acorns

  • Weather. If droughts, excessive rains, frosts, and other environmental factors affect crop productivity, you can expect a low yield of acorns.
  • Age of the oak tree. Older oak trees do not produce acorns. Similarly, those less than 20 years old also do not produce acorns.
  • The health of the tree. A healthy oak tree produces more acorns.
  • Species of the oak tree. Red oaks produce acorns every 3-5 years, while white oaks may take 4-7 years.
  • Soil fertility. The fertility of the soil in which the oak tree grows determines its productivity.
Factors affecting the production of acorns

How long do acorns last on the ground?

Acorns do not last long on the ground. Many animals like them and will eat or store as many as they can as soon as they fall.

When in sufficient sunlight and good growing conditions, acorns will sprout and start growing in a month. Without proper sunlight, they will wither and die under the oak tree that produced them.

Acorns from white oaks start to sprout faster than those from red oaks. The acorns from red oaks can last on the ground for up to six months.

Do you want higher productivity in your oak trees? Hire a pro is a free tool to hire professional tree service providers.

It connects homeowners to professionals in the following easy steps.

  1. Enter your zip code at the top of the tool.
  2. Fill in the form to provide more details about the tree service you need.
  3. You will receive three or four quotes and advice from professional and licensed tree removal service providers.
compare tree quote banner
  1. TreeNewal Staff, (2022) Acorns and Oak Trees: Everything You Need to Know. <> Accessed: 20-03-2024.
  2. Cyan Reed, (2018) What Tree Do Acorns Grow On? <> Accessed: 20-03-2024.
  3. Nicky Featherstone, (2021) When Do Oak Trees Start Producing Acorns? <> Accessed: 20-03-2024.
Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.