With an endless supply available from healthy oak trees, acorns symbolize prosperity and youthfulness – and it’s no wonder why they’ve become a go-to symbol of fall days to come. Acorns may be the first step in growing a 100-foot oak tree, but that’s not all you can use them for!
In truth, fallen acorns are incredibly versatile. You can use acorns in arts and crafts, animal feeders, decorations, tablescapes, and even in recipes! You can grow an oak tree from an acorn, donate them to zoos and wildlife preserves, or use them in recipes as flour, coffee, or just plain roasted.
So without further adieu – grab those fall acorns, and let’s get going, because today, we are going to talk about 10 amazing fallen acorn uses and what to do with them!
What Are Acorns?
Oak nuts, or commonly referred to as acorns, are the fruit of an oak tree. These little acorns are actually called fruits because they contain seeds and develop from the flower.
Oak trees contain both female and male flowers, and when the flowers reproduce – they create an acorn. Oak trees can produce up to 1,000 acorns in a month’s time and 1,000,000 in a lifetime (sometimes even 10,000,000 for rare oak trees.)
All oak trees make acorns, but it takes them at least 20 years to be able to develop them. It takes a Red Oak Tree two full years to make an acorn and a White Oak Tree one year to make an acorn.
These fascinating little acorns provide nutrition to wildlife, and even today and in ancient times, to humans! An acorn itself is considered a superfood, especially for our wildlife. An acorn produces carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – all of which can provide nutrients to our wildlife.
Acorns also come in varieties. The acorns of a White Oak Tree are actually sweet, and the acorns of a Red Oak Tree are bitter.
Most animals prefer the White Oak Tree acorn’s taste when given a choice, but Red Oak Tree acorns become a necessary means of survival, as even though they may not taste so good to some animals – they are nutrient-dense. When food is scarce, both white and red acorns can keep animals alive.
But let’s be real for a second here, when acorns are fallen in a forest, there really isn’t much you need to do – but when acorns are falling all over your property, they can be a hassle.
Throwing out acorns can be disheartening, especially when you know how much it takes for one little acorn to come to life – so next time you find yourself cleaning up acorns, skip the trash can because there are a ton of things you can do with acorns instead!
9 Amazing Fallen Acorn Uses
From crafting, to planting, to cooking, to donating – acorns have so many uses. Being that the prime acorn falling season is from early to late Fall, the time is now to grab those acorns and do something amazing with them!
Use Acorns in Arts and Crafts
One of the best ways to give homage to acorns is to craft with them. Little kids love acorns, and whether you want to make some after-school crafts, or even if you’re a teacher and want some free crafting supplies if you just want to make something special for yourself – acorns are a great crafting material.
Small enough and with abundance, you can glue acorns to wooden frames, paint the acorns itself and add string to make little ornaments for the holidays, or for now, or you can string them together to make acorn garland, or you can even take the caps of acorns and fill them with candle wax and a wick to make little acorn tea-light candles!
The thing with crafting with acorns is that the ideas are limitless, and the more creative you are with your acorn crafts, the better. Acorns can be added to almost any fall craft!
Grow an Oak Tree From an Acorn
Besides just using them to create something else, you can also use acorns for one of their intended purposes – to grow an oak tree.
To grow an oak tree from an acorn, there are a few steps to take:
- Collect your acorns – preferably in the Fall.
- Remove the Cap of the Acorn – the cap is like a protective covering to the seed inside the shell.
- Do a Float Test – place your collected acorns in water, and if the acorn floats, it’s a quick way to tell that it is no good! It’s important to understand that not all acorns grow into an oak tree. Also, get rid of any soft-to-the-touch acorns.
- Refrigerate the Acorns – after picking out the good ones, put them all into a plastic bag, and make them hibernate. The cool air will mimic the naturally cold conditions that occur outside – which will help them germinate.
- Once you see them germinate, or after 40-45 days, plant the acorn in a pot!
- Once you start to see a sapling – it’s time to plant your acorn into the location you want to grow an oak tree.
- Make sure to water your new oak seedling!
If you’re interested in planting an oak tree from an acorn, check out our guide on how long it takes to grow an oak tree here.
Use Acorns in Animal Feeders
If you have an abundance of acorns, a great way to use them would be to collect them and use them in animal feeders!
Squirrels, birds, turkeys, rabbits, and almost 100 other varieties of wildlife love acorns, and acorns are a staple part of their diet. If you have acorns that you need to pick up and get rid of (rather than throwing them in the trash), fill your animal feeders and help supply our wildlife with something to eat!
Filling animal feeders with acorns can help you and your outdoor spaces in a few ways.
If you are having any sort of animal issue in your outdoor space, a quick way to direct the animals elsewhere would be to have a feeder – this way; they aren’t scurrying through your gardens and plants to find food.
A feeder can also keep animals in trees and branches and away from your lawns or too close to the house.
Donate Acorns to Zoos and Wildlife Preserves
If feeders aren’t for you and you are getting rid of your acorns, consider donating them to a zoo or wildlife preservation center.
Acorns are free food for so many animals – and they really do love them! Before you get rid of the acorns, consider bringing them to a zoo or wildlife preservation so the animals can be fed an extra-special acorn treat!
On the plus side, even if the zoo does not decide to feed the acorns to the animals, they can also use them in community classes. Think arts and crafts, educational purposes, etc.
Donate Acorns to Organizations
For crafts and educational purposes – donating acorns to organizations like Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, Parks and Recreation groups, or even schools or other educational services can be a great way to use those fallen acorns.
Especially in the month of October and November, acorns are plentiful, and since they are great free materials for arts and crafts, you can try donating them to an organization or educational program!
If you’re a teacher yourself or know a teacher – ask them if they’d like the extra acorns for a class project! It’s nice to put some of nature’s finest attributes to good use!
Sell Acorns Online or at Farmers Markets
Believe it or not, you can actually sell your acorns on online shopping platforms.
There is actually an acorn selling market out there – and people will buy them if they need them.
Although oak trees are common in many parts of the USA, not everyone has an oak tree, and if they do, not everyone has an oak tree that is mature enough to make acorns. People actually use acorns for cooking, crafting, or even, if they want to grow an oak tree themselves, and will buy them!
Many hunters actually use acorns as bait – and will buy acorns in bulk for that specific reason.
Use Acorns as Decorations
Another great way to use acorns is to decorate your house with them and use acorns as decorations!
If you have some decorative vases around your home, or even glass votives and candle holders, filling your home decor with acorns can be the perfect touch for Fall! It is an easy and free way to add those authentic-fall small touches around your home to welcome the chilly season!
Fall is an amazing season, and we love to make our homes feel cozy for it. Sometimes, all it takes to welcome the cozy weather into your home is to bring the outside in – and add real and natural touches to your indoor spaces.
Make a Fall Acorn Tablescape
Continuing with the decorating tips – you can use acorns for your tablescapes this Fall.
Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving or have your dining room tables decorated for Fall, using acorns almost like confetti laid out on your tables – can help make the perfect fall tablescape.
A lot of times, you may have a table runner on your table, and it seems to be missing that extra touch – adding some acorns into the mix can be just the thing you need!
Roast Fallen Oak Acorns
Acorns can never be eaten raw; however, roasting them is a whole other story. The first step to using acorns in cooking is to first leach them.
The leaching process consists of first shelling the acorns and then placing the seeds in boiling water. Once the water gets brown, drain out the water and add new water. Keep repeating the process until the water is completely clear. When the water is clear – then you know they are ready to be used in cooking!
How to Clean Up Acorns Outdoors
Now that we’ve shared all the amazing ways you can use fallen acorns – the most important thing that we have to discuss is how to collect acorns in the first place!
Depending on the number of acorns you need to clean up will decide the best tool. Of course, you can always go in with your hands to collect a few – but if you have more than one matured oak tree, there’s a good chance you can have upwards of one thousand acorns, and in this case, it’s probably easier to use a tool meant to pick up acorns!
If you have a few acorn-making oak trees on your property, you can try the Garden Weasel, which is a tool that rolls and requires no bending whatsoever! The tool will suck the acorns up and any other small objects just by simply rolling them.
If you have a ton of acorns and have a lot of mature oak trees around, you may opt for something more commercial like the Bag-A-Nut 12 inch Small Acorn Harvester.
That’s a Wrap!
Acorns are one of the world’s most amazing and tiniest creations. All the things that have to go right to make one single acorn, and all the time that is needed, is absolutely amazing to think about.
The fact that we often just get rid of acorns can be disheartening since they do so much for our wildlife and can even be used by us in many ways as well!
Whether you are a crafter, want to take care of wildlife, want to cook, or even if you want to make some extra money – fallen acorns have so many amazing uses that we hope you try!
Did you know that acorns aren’t the only tree that produces unusual fruits? You can read more about the trees that have acorns and what to do with them here.
Siscart, D., Diego, V., & Lloret, F. (1999). Acorn ecology. In Ecology of Mediterranean evergreen oak forests (pp. 75-87). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Goodrum, P. D., Reid, V. H., & Boyd, C. E. (1971). Acorn yields, characteristics, and management criteria of oaks for wildlife. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 520-532.
Koenig, W. D., Mumme, R. L., Carmen, W. J., & Stanback, M. T. (1994). Acorn production by oaks in central coastal California: variation within and among years. Ecology, 75(1), 99-109.
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