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Discover Nature: Tree Nuts

Sun shines on a tree branch with a burr oak acorn’s round nut emerging from a deep, fringed cap.
A variety of tree nuts, like this burr oak acorn, ripen and fall to the ground in September and October. Watch for tree nuts falling in the woods this week across Missouri. These large seeds feed wildlife and people.

Celebrate the arrival of autumn this week, and watch for a variety of ripening tree nuts falling to the ground.

   

 

Many Missouri native trees produce this protein-rich food for wildlife and people, and aid in the trees’ reproductive process. 

 

Watch for walnuts, hickory nuts, hazelnuts, horse chestnuts (buckeyes), acorns, and pecans, falling from above, and scattered on the ground. 

 

As leaves begin to fade from green to shades of red, orange, yellow, and brown, they too will fall, providing a fertile forest floor to help these large seeds sprout new trees. 

 

Missouri’s woodland wildlife – from birds to bears, squirrels, mice, deer, turkeys, and even insects – rely on this autumn crop for survival through the winter. Much of the bounty is edible, even for humans. 

 

Learn to identify Missouri’s tree nuts, their value to the ecosystem, and which ones to prepare in the kitchen, with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide, and this Missouri Conservationist article. 

 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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