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Is The Oak Tree A Viable Survival Food Source?

A full-grown tree is one of the magnificent trees in nature. Below are a few facts about the magnificent oak tree:

• There are over 90 Species of oak in North America and 600 oak species worldwide

• Al oaks grow acorns (this includes poison oak)

• Fully grow oak trees can get up 148 feet tall

• Oak trees live up to 1,000 years

• In its lifetime the oak tree will produce approximately 10 million acorns

The following information is good to know for cocktail parties. But, if you are reading this article, you probably just want to know the initial question of-Can You Eat Oak Tee Leaves and Acorns?

Keep on reading to find this answer and more.

What Can You Expect in This Article?

This article will answer the questions and more.

• Are oak tree leaves edible?

• Are acorns edible?

• Describe what tannin acid is and how they are related to oak trees

• And much more . . .

Can You Eat Oak Leaves?

Oak Leaf

Not a Tasty Treat!

Previously, I wrote an article on if humans are able to eat grass. (The answer is no) Now, you’ll find out if the oak tree is the same as the grass. The straight-up answer to the above question is yes and no. You can eat a few leaves and it will not kill you. (It might though wreck your stomach). But you cannot live off of oak leaves.

The reason is that oak leaves contain tannins. As I stated, a few oak leaves will not kill you. But if you ingest too many tannin-laced oak tree leaves you’ll likely suffer negative health consequences.

Per WebMD the tannin in the oak leaf is actually an anti-nutrient, which means that excess tannin ingestion will actually impede your body’s ability to use nutrients.

Not all hope is lost though. . . there still is the acorn, which will be examined below.

Is the Acorn Edible?

Green Acorn

Don’t Eat This Raw

Acorns are good news, bad news scenario. The bad news is that acorns also contain tannins. As a result, a raw acorn is just as toxic as an oak leaf. The good news though is that, through leaching the acorns, you can turn them into an edible source of food. I will examine the leaching process toward the end of this article.

For survival, all you need to know is that a raw acorn and an oak leaf contain tannic acid, and tannic acid, in large quantities, can cause numerous negative health problems. If you want to investigate tannins and tannic acid, go to the end of this article and read up.

Why Would I Leach Acorns?

Leaching is a fancy term for using a liquid to remove substances from an organism. So, the answer to this question is simple, leaching can remove tannic acid from an acorn. And when tannins are removing the acorns can be safely eaten. So, in reference to acorns, leaching via cold water or hot water removes the tannic acid from an acorn.

How Do You Leach Acorns?

Leaching an acorn is quite a simple, four-step process.

1. DeShell-Take the shells off the acorn. Tip-If you can de-shelling will go easier if they are frozen.

2. Soak– Cover the shelled acorns in either cold or hot water.

3. Check The Acorns-Check and see if the water has turned brown. If so, empty the water, put new water in and place acorns in the new water.

4. Rinse And Repeat– The above process needs to be repeated until the liquid is clear

What Can You Make With Acorns?

There are numerous recipes that use the oak acorn. One popular recipe is acorn flour. This article here has recipes ranging from acorn griddle cakes to even acorn pasta. So, if you feel adventurous, try a few of these and you might find a gem or two!

Final Thoughts

The oak tree and its acorns are excellent additions to your diet. As an example, acorn is high in vitamin A and E, and they contain vital minerals, potassium, and iron. However, as they need preparation before eating, which you likely would not have will out in the wilderness, the oak is not a good source of emergency survival food. However, the acorn is an excellent addition to your long-term food supply during a long-term disaster or if you are simply wanting to try to be more self-sufficient.


What Is Tannin Acid?

You might be wondering what tannins are and what are their purpose. Using the oak tree as an example, Tannin acid is a self-defense mechanism that plants have. The bitter tannin acid gives the oak tree its nasty taste. The nasty taste will then deter animals from eating any part of the oak tree.

What About Oak Trees?

The tannin self-defense mechanism appears on all parts of the oak tree like the bark, leaves, acorns, etc. Some amount of tannin will be on a tree all year. Oak trees are filled with toxic tannins when the oak tree buds are just starting in the springtime months. A rule of thumb is that as the leaves get older, they will get less poisonous. And a ripe acorn is less toxic than your fresh acorns.

What Animals are Affected by Tannins?

Pretty much any animal that is domesticated or wild is affected by tannins. For example, goats, pigs, horses, and cattle will all be negatively affected by tannin acid.

Do Oak Trees Have the Same Amount?

Different species of oak trees have different levels of tannin. As an example, a red oak tree will have more tannin than a white oak tree.

What Are the Effects of Eating Tannin?-Oak Poisoning

As I stated before, luckily a small amount of tanning will not kill you. But, too much can have devastating consequences. Eating tannin will likely first negatively affect your digestion and cause gastrointestinal problems. (I.E. Nausea, Stomach Aches, constipation) If you really go overboard in consuming tannic acid you might be subject to severe liver damage.

Be On the Lookout!

I’m pretty sure you already know about either the white oak tree or the red oaks. These trees are beautiful and quite majestic. However, there are other, no-so, pretty, plants that are also part of the oak tree family. Some of these other, oak species plants are:

  • Scrub Oak
  • Valley Oak
  • Shinnery Oak

And don’t forget the dreaded poison oak! (I don’t recommend you try to get acorns from poison oak though)

Poison Oak

Poison Oak

And all these plants grow acorns.

Fun Fact- Poison Oak was used by the Native American as a homeopathic medicine.