Sunday, 19 January 2020

Beech Mast "A Mast Year"

Showing a typical beech tree laden with mast (2020)

I probably would not have given it a second thought about there being large amounts of beech mast this year until I started investigating just why were there so many Chaffinch and Woodpigeons over-wintering in
Dalton Crags. We normally have up to about 200 birds (Chaffinch) in any given year, but never had 2000 plus before (to my knowledge).

Its because of the large fall of Beech Mast this year.  I have learned that you do get these "Mast Years" (as they are duly called) every 5 to 10 years and obviously this Winter 2019/2020 falls into this category. 

There are many people who have/or eat the nuts from the Fagus sylvatica (Beech Tree), although most people enjoy them and it does not seem to give them any problem, but also beware they do have a toxin called saponin glycoside which could produce gastric problems. 

In years passed Beech Nut oil was extracted and used for lamps and also for cooking.

On maybe a lighter note does anyone remember buying the Beech Nut speg!

(speg - a Lancashire slang for Chewing Gum)