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Thursday, September 22, 2016

200 Years, 200 Trees: Getting Ready for the University of Michigan Bicentennial at Matthaei-Nichols

The University is pulling out all the stops for its bicentennial in 2017. Departments and units across campus are planning events, discussions, programming, and more that will occur throughout the year.

Matthaei-Nichols is planning three activities for the bicentennial. The first is our "Grandmother Tree Walk" in Nichols Arboretum that features trees of significance or great age that are still growing in the Arb. Signs will be installed near each tre on the walk in the spring of 2017 so visitors can take the tour and read about the story of U-M from the perspective of the trees.

For the fall native plant sale in October 2017 we're giving away 200 white oak (Quercus alba) seedlings germinated from acorns collected from trees on our properties.  Staff, students, and volunteers raced to get to the acorns before they fell to the ground and the squirrels got to them. No easy feat, considering the hungry squirrels in the Arb!

We'll also be planting two white oaks at Matthaei and the Arb in the fall of 2017. Stay tuned for more information on these bicentennial activities as the new year approaches.

Collecting White Oak Acorns from Trees on Our Properties

In late September, volunteers, staff, and student caretakers at the Arb collected 300 acorns from trees growing in the Arb. Some pictures of the acorns and how we selected ones to keep and plant and ones to discard.

You'd think the number of acorns would be huge in any given year on any given white oak. Not necessarily, according to the US Forest Service:

"Seed Production and Dissemination- White oak can produce seeds prolifically, but good acorn crops are irregular and occur only every 4 to 10 years. Sometimes several years may pass without a crop. Acorn yields range from 0 to 500,000 acorns per hectare (202,000/acre) (7,22,28). This great variation in acorn production exists not only among isolated stands of oaks but also among individual trees within stands and from year to year."

Referenced from US Forest Service publication.



All the acorns collected for the bicentennial white oak giveaway.


Sorting the acorns. Plenty of insect damage, never mind the squirrels!


Can't use these. Infested with insects and therefore damaged.
In the bag: the good acorns, getting ready for planting.













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