City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

September 20, 2016

August 30th

Filed under: Gambel's Oak, Plants — canopus56 @ 11:30 pm

Millions of Acorns

4 p.m. A stiff wind blows many Gambel oak acorns across the road. Cars, bicyclists, and runners quickly grind them into acorn meal. From this, I estimate that a 20-foot square patch of Gambel oak produces about 1 cup of acorns. Taking the area of the lower canyon at about 1 x 5 miles and the density of a Gambel Oaks at 10%, then the canyon produces about 34,848 cups of acorns. That equals a volume of about 100 cubic yards, or the cubic volume of two United States football fields. Imagine the same in a local football stadium, such as Rice Eccles Stadium. If this estimate is off by half and it would only be one US football field covered to the depth of a hundred yards. If it is off by a factor of 10, then the cubic volume of acorns would be 10 cubic yards, or about two tractor-trailers. Thus, the Gambel oak provides an important base of the ecological pyramid that supports the canyon’s birds and small mammals.


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