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29 Jan 2022

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: From little acorns to sturdy and sacred oaks

With Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: From little acorns to sturdy and sacred oaks

Acorns

While many autumn berries are brightly coloured and visible, not all fruits of our wild plants are as easy to find.

Acorns are of course the fruit of the oak tree and, at least for me, I don’t often get to find them as they are hidden between the dense clusters of leaves.

However, a few weeks ago, while visiting the park in Monasterevin I was delighted to get the opportunity to photograph acorns.

The oak tree is very important in our local communities, especially here in Kildare, which in Irish is Cill Dara and translates to ‘the church of the oak tree’.

The oak tree is a native species and mature trees are said to be a important habitat for wildlife. One study identified almost 200 different species living on the bark, leaves and branches of an oak tree.

There are also two different native species of oak tree in Ireland —the Sessile and Pedunculate Oak.

Both are said to live up to 300 years and can reach a height of 40 metres. However Pedunculate Oak is not as common as Sessile Oak.

The green leaves have wavy edges, and as a deciduous tree you will find them falling to the ground at this time of year.

Both species of oak tree are very similar but you can distinguish between them by looking at the acorns. The acorns of Sessile Oak don’t have any stalks while the acorns of Pedunculate Oak have stalks. But if you are like me, it may take you some time to actually find the acorns!

The oak tree in Ireland is said to be a sacred tree with strong connections to the kings of our past.

Royal trees

Oak trees were planted near royal burial sites around Ireland. Similar to all trees in our communities, they also filter our air through their process of photosynthesis when they make their own food.

If you would like help identifying local wildlife or indeed like to share your images of local wildlife encountered to be used in a future Wildlife Watch, contact me on 045 860133 or bogs@ipcc.ie.

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