If you’re anywhere around a Garry oak tree, you’ll see the evidence. Acorns are everywhere.
“The population of trees is trying to overwhelm the pressures that would limit the trees’ ability to reproduce,” says Ryan Senechal of the Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society (GOMPS).
Senechal says it’s unclear whether the proliferation of acorns is due to the drought conditions this year on Vancouver Island, but the trees are experiencing what’s called a “mast year.”
Senechal says the last time he saw this kind of acorn production was in 2021. “That year there were probably more,” he says.
The GOMPS is a stewardship society to preserve and manage Garry Oaks on Vancouver Island.
“Our mission is to preserve existing trees, to plant new ones from the genetic population that historically evolved,” says Senechal.
Dr. Nancy Turner is a Professor Emeritus from the University of Victoria in Environmental Studies, and has noticed an abundance of acorns on her property on Protection Island.
“They are raining down, especially in this wind storm we’re having.” Turner says Vancouver Island is one of the few places in Canada where you’ll find Garry oaks, and helping manage their future is as simple as planting an acorn.
“I did that a few years ago,” she says. “Now there’s a beautiful young Garry oak growing up in our front yard.”
Senechal says growth of the Garry oaks has been challenged by urban infrastructure, this year’s crop of acorns shows they’re capable of adapting to their changing surroundings.
“Research that emerged shows they’re incredibly drought-tolerant and tough.”