A run in the woods again, as they are partway between home and Uni. Today’s nature table item is marginally festive, in that the tree it would probably develop into could be used as a yule log when it was dead..but not the chocolate sort sadly.
These are wee acorns, snatched from their place of germination by a mixture of cruel fate and moorhen talons.
Now acorns in theory translate eventually into oaks. But it isn’t that straightforward. Before they will germinate they need certain conditions to be fulfilled: firstly they need to be sown/dropped quickly as they are prone to desiccation (they will however germinate after flooding,[links to .pdf of paper] which is useful to know with the unpredictable nature of future rainfall patterns). This means that in terms of conservation in the Millennium Seed Bank, they are classified as recalcitrant; and therefore difficult to conserve in the dry, cold conditions they use (15% humidity, -20c).
They also need to go through a winter, in horticultural terminology this is called stratification, and in some cases can be artificially created by storing the seed in damp compost in the fridge. But if you are collecting them to grow, pop them in a pot quickly and don’t let them dry out, but leave them in the garden over whatever is going to pass for winter this year…
They germinate feet first, so the radicle or primary root will appear first (which is what you can see in the photo) and the hypocotyl (or shoot) won’t appear till late spring. I would say that 2 out of 3 shown in the photo are clearly suffering from drying out, so who knows how they will do. But I have put them in nice damp pots of compost, just in case.