Page:The Oak.djvu/28

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CHAPTER II.


the acorn and its germination—the seedling.

When the acorns are falling in showers from the oaks in October and November, everybody knows that each of the polished leather-brown, long, egg-shaped bodies tumbles out from a cup-like, scaly investment which surrounded its lower third at the broader end. Perhaps everybody would not be certain as to whether the detached acorn is a seed or a fruit, so I anticipate the difficulty by stating at the outset that the acorn is the fruit of the oak, and contains the seed within its brown shell; and I propose to commence our studies by examining an acorn, deferring the explanation of some minute details of structure until we come to trace the origin of the fruit and seed in the flower.

The average size of the fruit is about 15 to 20 mm., or nearly three quarters of an inch, long, by 8 to 10 mm., or nearly one third of an inch, broad at the middle of its length; the end inserted in the cup or cupule is broad and nearly flat, and marked by a large circular scar (Fig. 2, s) denoting the surface of attachment to the cupule. This scar is rough, and exhibits a number of small points which have resulted from the breaking