Watch CBS News By Vanessa Murdock Updated on: November 1, 2023 / 7:15 PM EDT / CBS New York NEW YORK — An abundance of acorns this season has people wondering why?CBS New York’s Vanessa Murdock spoke with an expert at New York Botanical Garden for answers.Some worry they’ll break an ankle walking on them.
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By Vanessa Murdock
/ CBS New York
NEW YORK — An abundance of acorns this season has people wondering why?
CBS New York’s Vanessa Murdock spoke with an expert at New York Botanical Garden for answers.
Some worry they’ll break an ankle walking on them. Others want to cut down the mighty oaks that produce them. One dog owner says her pet wants to eat them.
“He wants to put as many in his mouth as he possibly can,” Woodcliff Lake resident Ingrid Christophel said.
This season, acorns fill cracks in sidewalks, cluster around garbage pails, get collected and delight Kathleen Berkowitz.
“They look like little people with berets on them,” Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, resident Kathleen Berkowitz said.
“The whole ground is covered with pine cones and acorns. Probably because of all the rain, we don’t know,” Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, resident Irwin Berkowitz said.
To understand why so many fruit sit on the ground this season, we tapped into the expertise of Melissa Finley, Thain Curator of Woody Plants at New York Botanical Garden.
“This is a year that we call a mast year,” she said.
That’s an acorn boom that occurs every three to five years. The exact cause is a bit of a mystery, but Finley says, “One kind of evolutionary advantage of trees producing variable amounts of acorns is that it can satiate the demand from predators, so our squirrel populations and bird populations, and there will be a kind of a guarantee that new seedlings will make it until the next year.”
She says weather might also play a role.
“We got a really nice head start with a mild winter this year and a nice spring. We’ve gotten a lot of water throughout the summer,” Finley said.
Finley says that leaves a lot of available resources to make acorns, and there’s this: “Masting is a phenomenon that occurs mostly in wind-pollinated trees.”
The perfect breeze might have kicked up just as oaks pollinated.
“It’s really kind of a mysterious phenomenon in that … there must be some type of communication going on between these trees beyond just a shared location and shared climate,” Finley said.
No matter the cause, the result means a mess to be cleaned up for some and a need for the nut gatherer — a hot ticket item says Debbie Smith, of Home Hardware in Waldwick, New Jersey.
“This is the last [nut gatherer] we have on the shelf right now,” Smith said. “Apparently when a lot of acorns fall, it means we’re gonna have a bad winter.”
“Have you ever heard this, and is there any truth to it?” Murdock asked Finley.
“I definitely think it’s kind of an old wives’ tale. The trees are not really predicting the future,” Finley said.
However, an abundance of acorns might mean more baby squirrels and bunnies in spring.
Finley adds that, unfortunately, we may also note an increase in ticks next year as deer also feed on acorns.
Vanessa Murdock joined the CBS 2 Weather Team in October 2011 as the weekend morning meteorologist and weekday reporter.
First published on November 1, 2023 / 7:03 PM EDT
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