Acorns and Galls

The acorns are falling from our native Escarpment Oaks (Quercus fusiformis). The deer are happy as this is one of their favorite foods. It is very good for them, supplying fats and proteins as well as carbohydrates.

Ancient peoples made a gluten-free high-protein flour from crushed acorns, but the process required leaching the bitter tannins out before pulverizing it into an edible meal. One modern method involves chopping acorns in a food processor, and then running them through a coffee maker until the bitter taste is removed. Tannins are water soluble, so the hot water extracts the tannins. After extracting the tannins, you can pulverize the acorns and use the resulting material as a flour. They say that the oils in the meal will turn rancid within a month, so you need to use it shortly after making it.

If you look up into the oak trees, you will also see round brown balls. They can also be found on the ground. A little wasp lays its eggs in the twig tissue of the oak, and the plant reacts by forming this hard spherical gall that contains a larvae of the wasp. These galls are said to have medicinal value. People have crushed these galls to make ointments, tinctures, medicated oils, and teas to fight infections inside and outside of the body.

The wasps that emerge from the brown galls are asexual, and without mating, they lay eggs in the spring on the undersides of the leaves. You may have noticed these small orangish growths on the undersides of the leaves in the spring and early summer. From these galls emerge males and females. After mating, the females lay their eggs in the twigs and this forms the spherical brown galls that we can now find on the trees and on the ground. Wonders never cease.

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