Loss of Oaks

Yes, The Squirrel Nutwork is still on winter hiatus, but our recent weather is prompting us to speak for the trees!

Like most of the east coast, we had high winds in northern Virginia over the weekend. Sadly, our suburban woodlands around the golf course lost many old oaks, a loss for both the human and wildlife inhabitants.

Many were snapped off, but a closer look showed that the heartwood of the tree was rotten.

Unfortunately, these older trees had such a branch spread of strong limbs that they took down adjacent trees.

One was apparently decayed enough at the base and roots that it uprooted.

We squirrels noted that recent replacement of the sidewalk adjacent to this last double oak had also included a regrading of the entire soil bed surrounding the tree… The tree was rotten, but it’s never a good idea to mess with the roots of a tree! They extend farther than most humans think–one and a half times the diameter of the branch spread. Good thing to keep in mind to help your trees weather storms like we seem to be having more frequently.


One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Quiet week here. I think this is an easy guess of most humans, but, hey, I’ll throw it out there anyway!

Be back later for your guesses!


All–nearly all!–they leaves on the ground here are oaks. The yellow leaves amid the coppery brown ones are  a branch form a White Oak tree. It’s one I–Hickory Squirrel–cut myself to add to my leaf nest. That’s why it’s a bit fresher than the rest of the red oak leaves that fell naturally.

Chilly nights, you know! We all need to add our layers.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s a weekend to celebrate our mystery column: This is the two hundredth mystery post on The Squirrel Nutwork!

And what better way to celebrate than with a mystery acorn!

Sigh, isn’t that a lovely sight?

That’s not too hard, is it? I mean, to guess what type of oak tree it came from?

I’ll check for your guesses in the comments–and if you really want a hint…here is one pictured below.


This beautiful acorn is from the Black Oak, Quercus velutina. Yes, it’s hard to tell the similar leaves of the black and red oak families apart. One way is the acorns. The Black Oak acorns are shorter and round. The leaves of the Black Oak turn a coppery color in the fall, not red like the Northern Red Oak. And, this is the best leaf difference any time of year, on the back of a Black Oak leaf, tufts of hair fill the angle of space between the main vein and the branching veins (called the axil!). Hope you human readers can see those tufts on the lower, yellowish, dotted leaf.

But either tree is beautiful to us squirrels and the acorns tasty!

And falling like crazy with the winds coming through!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

A bit of fall color for you to ruminate on this week.

What plant is this?

Check in with your guesses later!


Perhaps this is a hard one to recognize…grows in floodplains, a small tree…

This is the Common Pawpaw, Asimina triloba, a native tree that grows in patches and produces a delicious fruit. We squirrels find them by the nose, on the tree while ripe and eat them right then. When they fall, they start to overripen immediately and lose their sweet flavor.

Miz Flora says humans are wising up to Pawpaw trees and fruit. They’re easy to grow and have few pests, so require little care to get a fruit crop. Check them out if you have a bit of moist land.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s a commonly blooming flower…

…what is it?

Leave your guesses in the comments!


Asters are still blooming this late into fall.

Some are white, some purple.

Sorry, I don’t pay enough attention to asters to know their names–they don’t produce anything we squirrels eat. But these late-blooming flowers are very important to an entire group of insects preparing for winter…

Bees! Both honeybees and solitary bees are still about on warm days seeking nectar.