Sources for nuts/acorns?

Admittedly skirting the edge of off topic but it is still nuts, hope it’s ok!

Among my many mad science/horticulture schemes is looking into growing acorns for wildlife. I’m looking for acorns of mossycup oak and dwarf chinkapin oak to start. The only source I’ve found so far is FW Schumacher’s. I ordered some other seeds last year which were fine, but they tacked on a “small order” fee and shipping was absurd. I paid almost 2x the cost of seeds on shipping and the other fee, which I wasn’t told about before being charged. Left a sour taste in my mouth.

Any other sources? Is Sheffield’s any good? Their prices often seem a bit high.


Do you have an arboretum in the area that might carry some of these trees? You could just go pick them off the ground.

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Not that I’ve found, no. But a good idea!

St. Lawrence had a Bur Oak “Sweet” Acorn last year that they described as a favorite with wildlife due to its lack of tannic acid. They listed them as 3 - 5ft trees at $14 each. The new owners only sent out a catalog for apples this year, but maybe they’d accommodate a special request.

If you’re ever in DC in late summer/early fall, go to the U.S. Capitol. There is a MASSIVE burr oak there and it drops zillions of huge acorns annually. Just pick 'em off the ground and plant them at home.

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Oikos sells them now, too, but I’m hoping to get acorns somewhere. Might just have buy a tree though, at least for the Dwarf Chinkapin.

Ordered some paw paw seed from them last year. They shipped it dry, which everyone recommends against for that species. Poor germination, especially compared to seed from England’s, which had 90% plus germination. I know, not a nut or acorn, but thought it showed Sheffield’s level of competence or care.

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I am gathering Acorns myself to see if they would grow but I am becoming frustrated because I cannot tell the trees apart for sure. (Actually I know that they will grow because I mow them down and pull them from flower beds)

The Acorns look just slightly different and the leaves are only slightly different as well.

I have thousands and am sure that I have at least six to ten different kinds of Oaks in my yard.

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Yeah, oak ID is hard. Doesn’t help they can hybridize readily either. If you’re saving acorns I’ve read it’s best to plant/pot them right away since many will germinate now then emerge in spring.

For the last couple of weeks it has been raining acorns at my cottage. It is crazy as they hit everything and constantly sound like people walking or whatever, unreal! About 50 per minute from white and red oaks.


The indigenous peoples here(and probably elsewhere) utilized acorns extensively. For an interesting read, get your hands on “It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn Preparation” by Bev Ortiz, with Julia Parker. Another one, with lots of recipes, is “Acorns and Eat 'Em” by Suellen Ocean.
Tannins are ‘different’ in the white and red/black oak species… in general, we recommend utilizing white oak group acorns ‘fresh’, as they don’t ‘store’ very well, whereas the red/black species can be stored, dried, for long periods.

Like you , I initially got into oaks - particularly bur oak - as a mast source for wildlife, as I’d grown up as a deer hunter. The huge size of some of those bur oak acorns ( I have one AL selection that makes acorns that run in the range of 6-8/lb, with caps removed) is what first drew me to them, but their growth habit, corky bark and loustrous leaves make them a great landscape addition - and some folks seek out those ‘frilly’ acorn caps for use in crafting projects.
In contrast to what most literature says, the bur, SWO and hybrid oaks I’ve grown usually grow fast - 2 ft or more per year, and come into acorn production by 8-10 years of age, bearing heavily pretty quickly - and fruiting almost every year, in an unfertilized lawn setting. It stands to reason that growth rates and time to bearing are are lower and longer, respectively, in a dense forest setting

Along the way, I got hooked in with folks in the NNGA and International Oak Society who were looking at and selecting oaks for low tannin levels and high productivity as potential human food sources. I’ve sampled some that were extremely low in tannins - not particularly tasty, just kind of like a very bland chestnut - but not bitter/astringent. But…I’m not convinced that genetics is the full story… I’ve had acorns in subsequent years from those low-tannin selections that were bitter/astringent, like most any other member of their species or group.
Most of the ‘edible’ acorn oak selections that have been made in recent years have been Q.macrocarpa, Q.bicolor, and/or various hybrids, often with one or both of those species in the genetic mix.


Great info, thanks for sharing Lucky! I’ll have to check out those books, sounds like a interesting read.

I found a souce for dwarf Chinkapin acorns (Q. prinoides). PM me if anyone wants to know or split the 1/2 lb box I got, probably 90-100 acorns in it… They are sending out radicles now, look good.

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Thanks again for the DCO nuts! I received them today. Do you have a good process for growing them? Are you going to direct seed or start them in containers?

Here is my plan after doing a little reading. When I received them, I temporarily put them in a ziplock bag with some damp long-fiber sphagnum and put them in the vegetable crisper.

I ordered 2 Rootmaker 32 propagation trays. I have 18s, but for this application I decided to get 32s.

When the trays come in, I’ll fill them with promix bx and plant the DCO nuts. I’ll keep them at room temperature for a week or to so the root radicle can get a good start but before any top growth develops, I plan to put the tray in a large ziplock storage bag and place the entire tray in the refrigerator to vernalize the nuts. I plan to try vernalizing for 1, 2, and maybe 3 months before taking them out and starting them under lights.

At the appropriate time, I’ll transplant them to larger roomaker containers, keep them for the summer, and plant them in the field next fall.

What is your plan?

This is my first time growing them, so I don’t have a definite plan yet. I’m sure you read the same posts that I did on the QDMA forums, which I’m using as a guide of sorts.

I’ll be growing them in containers, even then I have to be careful since I have extremely heavy small rodent pressure. The neighborhood strays are slacking! Last year growing pawpaws and persimmons from seed they dug up about 95% of my pots before the seeds germinated. They will remain in the fridge until March or so then be potted up and either left in the garage (away from rodents) or outside in a protected spot. I’m going to either order some Rootmaker pots or Band pots, haven’t really decided yet. I also should be getting some assorted Bur Oaks that I will grow in more or less the same way.

Kelby, I hadn’t thought to suspect rodents when things haven’t germinated. That raises all sorts of questions about past failures now. How do you know when rodents are the problem? Did you see signs when it happens? Or do you just try to dig up the failed seeds later and find they’re not there any more?

It was fairly obvious, all the pots were dug up and half empty. Probably squirrels. I then screened the soil and found no seeds remained. A learning experience if nothing else. They dig up my pots with plants all the time, but especially in fall.

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Try coating the nuts with pepper spray, they will not come back once they get a taste. Also various animal repellents can be used.

Squirrels actually stole all my thai hots one year from a plant. It was a fully loaded plant. So don’t count on the pepper being a repellant because that squirrel considered it a meal. It only happened once and we were angry but still laughed as we envisioned his surprise during the winter.

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Yikes! Birds cannot taste the heat, but squirrels can so yeah he got a surprise!
I once saw a squirrel bite into one of my hot peppers. He ran in circles for 5 minutes! Much like my neighbor who stole one of my pretty scotch bonnets! Having no idea of the heat they pack! She told me about it, and it was funny! She was almost in trouble. Luckily it was a scotch bonnet and not something even hotter! Next year I’ll be growing a few super hots, Bhut Jolokia, Trinidad Scorpion, Fatalii Gourmet Jigsaw, and Carolina Reaper (world’s hottest according to Guinness). I’ll be wearing mask and gloves with these puppies!