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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

As Sweet As it Gets

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Joan Montserrat

Published May 2021 in International Oaks No. 32: 60–74

Abstract

BalanoTrees, a nursery created by Joan Montserrat and Francesc Ribera specialized in the selection and production of oaks that bear sweet acorns, has been locating and cataloging oaks that bear sweet acorns across the Iberian Peninsula and on the island of Mallorca for five years.

The idea that acorns were an important food source in human history and proto-history is generally accepted today but explanations as to why they were abandoned vary; some stressing the presumed difficulties in their cultivation and others the ideological component represented by cereal agriculture in developing central states.

Reviving interest in  acorns-as-food has  gained considerable momentum in  the recent past and, in this context, the Iberian Peninsula’s historical dehesa model has attracted much attention.

The present paper explores different aspects of the acorn-as-food, starting with a not-so-simple question: what is a truly “sweet acorn”?

Keywords

dehesa,  acorn  consumption,  forgotten  foods,  holm  oak,  Quercus  ilex, Q. rotundifolia, Q. ilex subsp. ballota, BalanoTrees

References

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García-Gómez, E., R. Pérez-Badia, J. Pereira, and  K.P. Rajindra, K.P. 2013. The Consumption of acorns (from Quercus spp.) in the Central West of the Iberian Peninsula in the 20th Century. Economic Botany. DOI 10.1007/s12231-017-9391-1.

Haines, A., and D. Wescot. 2014. Do sweet acorns still need to be leached? The Digital Archeological Record. https://core.tdar.org/document/424834/do-sweet-acorns-still-need-to-be-l....

Lebreton, P., M. Barbéro, and P. Quézal. Contribution morphométrique et bocihimique à) la structuration et à la systématique du complexe spécifique Chêne vert Quercus ilex L. 2013. Acta Botanica Gallica 148(4): 289-317.

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Rafii, Z.A., E. Zavarin, and Y. Pelleau. 1991a. Chemosystematic Differentiation of Quercus ilex and Q. rotundifolia Based on Acorn Fatty Acids. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 19(2): 163-166.

Rafii, Z.A., E. Zavarin, and Y. Pelleau. 1991a. Chemosystematic Differentiation of Quercus ilex and Q. rotundifolia Based on Acorn Steroids. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 19(2): 249-252.

Scott, J.C. 2018. Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (Reprint ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. Smith, J.R. 1929. Tree Crops: A permanent agriculture. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company.

Solla, A., S. Milanović, A. Gallardo, A. Bueno1, T. Corcobado, Y. Cáceres, D. Morcuende, A. Quesada, G. Moreno, and F. Pulido. 2016. Genetic determination of tannins and herbivore resistance in Quercus ilex. Tree Genetics & Genomes 12 : 117-129. Toernsmeier, E. 2012. Perennial Staple Crops of the World. Permaculture News. https://www.permaculturenews.org/2012/02/25/perennial-staple-crops-of-the-world/