Friday, December 20, 2019

2019 Was A Mega Mast Year

A tree with a high amount of pine cones (Cherie Luke) 

Living in the mountains means we are surrounded by forest with it’s many trees -
mostly evergreens. As I hike and tend to my own yard I have noticed that there
are more pine cones on the trees and on the ground than I ever remember seeing
before. What I learned was that the summer of 2019 is considered a Mega Mast

A Mega Mast Year is a year in which trees and other plants produce
exceptionally high amounts of seed. ‘Mast’ are the fruits, seeds, and nuts of
trees and shrubs, which are eaten by wildlife.

According to a Google search, after trying .edu search on the subject, “The
summer of 2019 has been a Mega Mast Year, when trees across large areas of
forest synchronously flower en masse. The prolific fruits and seeds that follow
have triggered a good breeding season for many birds and other wildlife.”

The amazing thing about a Mega Mast year I just learned according to an article
by Ethan Trapper, a Chittenden County, VT forester, is “The key strategy is
coordination - it works if everyone does it at once. How tree species coordinate
mast years is still somewhat of a mystery, but this ‘synchrony’ is probably aided
by some combination of chemical signals passed through the air or through
underground root/fungal connections and weather cues.”

To read more about this fascinating event you can visit:

By Cherie Luke, Jefferson County Master Gardener

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