In the spring, I learned that acorns of the white oak were less bitter–and were more widely used for food–than those of the red oak. At that time, I was walking through thousands of acorns in our neighborhood, and thinking how great it would be to use them for food. I also walked through thousands of dried-up oak leaves, but never saw any white oaks. You can tell the difference because the leaves of the red oak are pointy and the leaves of the white oak have rounded lobes.
This fall, there were barely any acorns. Oaks do that. They choose certain years (mast years) to collaboratively put on a full production of acorns, and others years, not so much. This may be a rough winter for the squirrels, who grew their families large on last year’s bounty. But imagine my surprise when I saw these leaves on the pavement during my morning walk. You might have to look closely.
Amidst the pointy ones are some small round-lobed leaves. The tree is about two blocks from my house, a smaller oak right next to a big red oak, standing in someone’s front yard. I am going to guess that it might be a white oak. I look forward to the next mast year for acorns, to see if I can distinguish them from each other, and maybe try making acorn flour.
Meanwhile, this was a beautiful autumn for oak trees. Usually, it seems, the oak leaves hang on the tree and go from green to brown without much fanfare. But two weeks ago, they were a translucent gold to rival the maples. Today, we had our first snow storm, but the snow is spotted with oak leaves everywhere, pulled from their branches by the wind to land on top of the snow.