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.