Hazel nuts: lost and found

May 29th 2015

On 3rd May 2015, Gordon Rothero and I were recording bryophytes in the vicinity of the Manse Loch. It was a raw day, with a cold easterly funnelling down the loch. We took refuge for lunch under an old hazel stool high on the south bank of the river that issues from the loch (NC0824). Tucked into dry crevices near the hazel were several collections of empty nuts. The holes through which the kernels had been extracted were untidy, with tooth marks on the outsides of the shells, showing that they had been gathered and eaten by wood mice (bank voles do a much neater job).

On 14th May, whilst forking over vegetable beds at Nedd (NC1331), I came across a number of buried hazel nuts sprouting shoots and roots. The nearest mature hazels are a little way off, so they must have been carted there by wood mice or bank voles, to be retrieved later (I have also had them in tomato boxes in the greenhouse). I can only guess that the animals that buried them came to a premature end, or perhaps had forgotten where they had stashed them?

When we fenced our half-acre against deer in 1991, we enclosed, and protected from browsing, 26 old hazel stools. Last year I counted over one hundred young hazels in wilder parts of the garden, presumably grown from other mislaid nuts?

Ian Evans

Empty Hazel nut shells. Photo I. Evans
Empty Hazel nuts. Photo I. Evans
Sprouting Hazel nuts. Photo I. Evans
Sprouting Hazel nuts. Photo I. Evans

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