How to select the right oak (or other tree) seeds to plant? Individual trees and tree populations vary in their resilience to drought, temperature and poor soil conditions - in the absence of information regarding which trees produce better surviving seeds, having diversity of seed sources is the key. But with conditions getting increasingly worse, can we really afford to not try to increase survival rates of our trees? Maybe we should identify as many source trees and populations producing more resilient trees as possible.
It's an idea that had been bothering me for quite a while. I'm especially interested in any possible guidelines for selecting seed sources, so please don't hesitate to contribute your ideas!
From a practical point of view, we collect seeds locally. If we are discussing let's say oaks, we try to get as many varieties possible/available nearby, and picking the most healthy. The acorns are put in water and the ones that float are discarded. We have a small oak forest nearby. Even though all the trees are all one type of oak...the acorns vary slightly from tree to tree. So we get a variety. We have evergreen oaks and holm oaks nearby also. We try to do the same with the other seeds.
As this project expands, we can share seeds across regions and countries.
If all goes well, this winter I will start new seeding projects in southern Greece, near Sparta. The climate there is more difficult. Higher temperatures, lower precipitation and longer summers.
This spring when I was there, I "planted" - just set down, some cactus pads ...about 25 pieces. I hope they will root and grow.
I plan to plant acorns and almonds in their shade. Hopefully a symbiotic relationship can develop between the two. When the oaks are young, they will benefit from the cool environment of the cactus.
15 to 20 years later, the oaks will shade the area, the cactus will die and become food for the oaks.
This is an update on the Red Clay site near Thessaloniki.
We have been planting seeds here for the last 6 to 8 years; 15 to 30 minutes each year.
We are pleased with the results; apologize for the noise...
These young trees have never been watered...survival is in their DNA.
For every tree planted by conventional means we can plant 60 to 100 seeds.
Perseverance is the operative word.
High temperatures, wild pigs, rabbits, no rain, early spring high temperatures, poor seed quality are among the factors that can adversely affect these projects. The investment in time and money is small. The long term payout is huge.
I located a few more ancient oak trees. A small village near Thessaloniki has a small church at the edge of the village. The land around the church has a good fence so the trees and acorns are protected from sheep and goats that might be nearby.
The acorns are excellent food for these grazers.
The oak tree is the Queen of the forest...I don't think there is a tree that is more valuable...being in the presence of these trees is !!!
I don't have the words to describe the feeling...
That's the job of poets and good writers, and I am neither.
The oaks trees that were productive last year and gave me plenty of acorns, didn't produce this year.
I was lucky enough to locate these trees. I hope their acorns will give us new strong oak trees.
In what part of the landscape in the video have you planted almonds previously? In between the pine trees or the opening between the pine stands?
I hypothesize that mycorrhizal preferences of these tree species might be the reason behind this effect. Pine and oak trees are both primarily Ectomycorrhizal associated species (although various oak species have been shown to also form symbiosis with Arbuscular mycorrhizae, especially in the Mediterranean). Almonds and plums (Prunus genus), on the other hand, seem to form symbiosis exclusively with Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
This theory would also explain why there is usually more plant diversity in oak forests than in pine forests, since oak trees also associate with Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and usually tend to be more open structured. There are also some reports of Ectomycorrhizal fungi dominating Arbuscular fungi in mixed-symbiont forests.source
Basically, I think the poor results on Almond and Plum plantings in EK1 might be due to the high density of pine trees (through the dominance of their Ectomycorhhizal symbionts) and/or the soil properties of the area. How are the soil properties of the opening and pine stands different from each other? Is the opening a rocky area?
On a side note, the opening got me curious about its history. It looks like a perfect strip. Maybe an old forest road?
Thanks for your input Gunes,
I saw this spot in the pine forest a few years ago; it's about 5 meters by 12 meters surrounded bypine trees. The soil is red clay. I thought it would be ideal for a mini food forest.
The almonds, apricots plums and apple trees just did not want to grow here (and in similar spots); they would sprout....but just did not survive. I am a stubborn and persistent individual...but I can't make trees grow where they don't want to.
A good view of the area is shown in the first 3 seconds of the video.
Don't know much about the mycorrhizal fungi...besides the common oaks...are there any other trees that can be grown in between the pines.
And if you know...what happens to the mycorrhizal fungi after a fire...what are the characteristics of the soil of the pine forest after a fire...what can be grown there?
I came across an article written by Iris Theodoridou. It's in Greek; the essence of the article is that in August 2012, a fire near Athens, burned an old pine forest.
The author visited the area after the fire, and to her surprise, she found oak trees, old and young that were growing among the pines. A month after the fire the oak trees that burned, were growing again; they had 30cm shoots. She also found that the wild pear trees were growin again after the fire.
Thank you to Antonio Anquila...he left a message on Youtube, sharing his knowledge on evergreen oak, and holm oak acorns.
Here is what he said.
They should stay true to the species but not necessarily be an exact clone of the parent tree because the parent may have exchanged pollen with other trees for example (less likely in a very isolated tree). Many characteristics also will depend on the growing site and the weather. They may remain a shrub in harsh conditions or grow into large trees in more favorable sites. Also acorns from the same tree vary in size sometimes from year to year and based on the growing conditions.
In general oaks hybridize well but usually one species is dominant in an area so I don't think it would be the case
What a fabulous thread! I started at page 1 but then skipped to page 27, so I'll catch up the rest later.
I live on the Southeast Coast of Spain. We have around 600ml rain a year, 40°C + in summer and maybe 1 or 2 frosts in winter.
I'm growing a food forest and have been experimenting with planting seeds from food we've eaten. Avocados do really well with minimal intervention, and I'm overrun with Carob (Algarroba) seedlings from the well established tree we inherited. My moringa (bought as a small tree) is not thriving as much as I'd hoped it would, but it's only its first year, so hopefully it will settle.
The main native trees around us are pine, but we have a huge problem with the procesionary caterpillars, and as we have dogs, I can't offer any pines a home here.
Our local agriculture is based on almonds, citrus, vines and some olive, but the almonds are being taken out because of Xylella which is devastating. We have a dead almond on our boundary, and one in the garden that looks as if it's seen better days, but it has given us a few seedlings so we'll see.
Figs grow beautifully, and I have high hopes for my peaches, pears, apples, nectarines, cherries, plums, black walnut... it's early days but in the coming years I hope to be gorging on these all through the summer!
Thank you for such an interesting thread! Have a wonderful day if you're celebrating today!
I didn't scroll through every page to see if this video is posted. It's worthy of multiple posts.
This one illiterate poor woman in China is responsible for eliminating the first desert on record according to this video. Very inspirational that this humble determined woman made such a huge difference.
In previous videos we mentioned the problems we are having with field mice taking away the almond seeds we place in the ground. Along with the almonds, the mice also expose all the other seeds we planted. In other words they ruin the whole project.
We stopped planting almonds...we cannot risk a whole project for one tree.
The only exception is areas that have had a forest fire...there the mice are not a problem...for at least 2 years.
We have tried many solutions (hot peppers etc), but nothing has worked.
Our latest try is to grow the almonds in pots, and then transplant them bare root.
We will plant them in December to January and then leave them alone. We want to see what percentage survives.
We are also trying the same, bare root option for cypress trees.
Nytimes.com "A warming climate has left a fifth of the conifer forests that blanket California's Sierra Nevada stranded in habitats that no longer suit them, according to a study published last week by researchers at Stanford University."
"In these “zombie forests,” older, well-established trees — including ponderosa pines, Douglas firs and sugar pines — still tower overhead, but few young trees have been able to take root because the climate has become too warm and dry for them to thrive."
Conifers in elevations under 1,000 meters will have a hard time surviving and reproducing.
Thanks to the inspiration and idea I got from Konstantinos Karoubas in this thread, I planted about 80 almond trees around a piece of neglected land that I have on the island of Sifnos in the Cyclades of Greece. I came back to the spot now in spring, and am happy to see that 47 of them sprouted!!. This was all with the sparse rain and humidity of the island.
Field mice were not an issue for me, as there are many (hungry) cats all over the place that eat anything they can get their paws on.
I took height measurements of each tree I spotted and they range from 8cm-34cm, with the average being 22 cm.
I want these to succeed since I am making a food forest, so I will mulch around each one and am planning on giving them 1L/week/tree during the hot summer months this year.
1) My main issue is the wind, and I want to make a dry stone construction circling each sapling, even though it is very laborious. Stacking a tire or 2 around them can also work, though it is unsightly. Maybe covering the tire with mud and then cement can be an option, but still a lot of work. Any suggestions on this front would be highly appreciated; before the strong dry winds start.
2) Since I planted many of them 50cm away from each other, and so many sprouted, there are areas of super high density of saplings that I fear in the future will interfere and limit growth of each other. Should I try transplanting some of them to leave at least ~2m between them?
What beautiful photos - these are strong looking almond trees.
Are there any almond trees growing on Sifnos?
Where did you get the almonds you planted?
What else grows wild or semi wild on Sifnos and the nearby islands?
Wild pear trees? plum trees? Oak trees? Mastic tree? Laburnum? Pomegranate?
Since you planted too many almonds, don't water the ones you don't want. Let's see how many survive without water. As mentioned previously, during the 1st summer the tree trunks fall off, but the root system underneath is alive and they may regrow the following spring.
The stones and the mulch should be enough to protect the ground from the wind.
When did you plant these almonds?
Is there an issue with goats on the island (or are they restricted).
Yes, Sifnos is full of almond trees, both domesticated and wild ones. These almonds I planted on September 24, 2022. I got them all from a tree on a neighboring field less than 200 meters away, although it is a tree that is growing on the corner stone walls that are about 1.5 meters high, so it was well protected from the wind when first growing.
In Sifnos, there are wild pear trees and pomegranate. Also many many fig trees, and cypresses. Of course a ton of olive trees as well, and some laurel and Leucaena in less windy areas. I have not seen any oak or laburnum trees. There is also tree spurge, though that is more of a succulent. No other note-worthy trees I've seen grow wild, and the mastic here is more of a bush than anything.
I will do what you said, and not water the ones I don't want. Do you think that 1.5m distance is good? I will also add a little fetid swamp water fertilizer that I made 6 months ago to them. I planted them perpendicular to the wind so that when they get windswept, the branches will not be interfering with each other.
No issues with unrestricted goats, and I have fencing around to make sure nothing comes in.
I attached a pic of the windswept tree that I got the almonds from, I find it beautiful and gives hope that nature finds a way. Note how the branches that are directly hit by the wind are dried out and then protect the green ones. This is a pattern I see in all windswept olive trees and anything. If you cut the dead branches off, then the ones facing the wind will die off again, so best to just keep them on.
Good luck with this food forest project. It's an interesting journey you are embarking on.
It will be interesting to find out what the land wants to grow.
I didn't know about the wind factor.
All of the islands were heavily forested in ancient times - not that long ago (2000 years or so). It will be interesting to see whether you will be able to create such a forest on your land, and how long it will take you to do it.
You will know in the 1st few years if the land will accept the seeds, and if you have the perseverance to accomplish it.
What do you know about the soil and subsoil… Digging a bit, about 30 to 50 cm can provide you with alot of info.