May 17, 2024

Hoping for a Mast Crop

Male catkins mix with new leaves on Gambel Oak.
Walking around, I see a pretty good mix of leaves and flowers on the scrub (Gambel) oak. Because it grows in clone clusters, some are already mostly leafed while others are just beginning. 

I suppose that the biologists would claim that there is evolutionary advantage there: if the early bloomers are hit by frost, the late-bloomers might still be safe. 

I just remember last year driving past miles of frost-killed catkins—which meant few if any acorns formed, so many calories of wildlife food were just not there.

When a wildlife biologist refers to "the mast crop," I get warm tingles, because that word goes way way back connectimg our Colorado forests in a sense to the forests where Old English and its predecessors was spoken.

"Fallen nuts or acorns serving as food for animals." Old English mæst, the collective name for the fruit of the beech, oak, chestnut, and other forest trees, especially serving as food for swine, from Proto-Germanic *masto (source also of Dutch, Old High German, German mast "mast;" Old English verb mæsten "to fatten, feed"), perhaps from PIE *mad-sta-, from root *mad- "moist, wet," also used of various qualities of food (source also of Sanskrit madati "it bubbles, gladdens," medah "fat, marrow;" Latin madere "be sodden, be drunk;" Middle Persian mast "drunk;" Old English mete "food," Old High German muos "meal, mush-like food," Gothic mats "food").

No comments: