Perhaps the most well-known and dramatic of all the species’ life cycles, that of the oak tree is often used as a metaphor for potential: “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” And indeed they do.
• There are 500 species of oak in the world and all carry acorns in little “cups”. Those acorns are the seeds of new life and, if successfully dispersed, they will germinate in the earth.
• Once germinated, a tiny seedling begins to grow. This is the most vulnerable stage, when they are competing for light and nutrients and are susceptible to weather events, environmental threats and animal and insect attacks.
• By the time it has reached 3cm -8cm in diameter and 1.5m tall, our seedling is known as a sapling. Still too young to reproduce, it remains vulnerable to threat but with luck, continues to grow over many years.
• It is only after about 25-50 years that the sapling becomes a mature oak producing acorns every year for new life cycles to begin.