Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 2925–2934 | Cite as

Variation in tannin activity of acorns of seven species of central florida oaks

  • David C. Fleck
  • James N. Layne


Acorns of seven sympatric species of oaks (Quercus spp.) occurring in central Florida were compared for protein-precipitating ability (PPA). Husks and cotyledons of green and ripe acoms were analyzed. Few significant differences were found between green and ripe acorns of the same species. Cotyledons were significantly higher than husks in PPA in most of the species compared. All species exhibited high intraspecific variability in PPA. Significant differences between species were found in green and ripe cotyledons and in green husks. With the exception ofQ. minima, PPA of ripe cotyledons was higher in the subgenusErythrobalanus (red oaks) than the subgenusQuercus (white oaks).

Key Words

Acorns defensive compounds Fagaceae oaks phenolics Quercus seasonality tannins variability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrahamson, W.G., andAbrahamson, C.R. 1989. Nutritional quality of animal dispersed fruits in Florida sandridge habitats.Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 116:215–228.Google Scholar
  2. Abrahamson, W.G., Johnson, A.F., Layne, J.N., andPeroni, P.A. 1984. Vegetation of the Archbold Biological Station, Florida: An example of the Lake Wales ridge.Fla. Sci. 47(4):209–250.Google Scholar
  3. Baldwin, I.T., andSchultz, J.C. 1983. Rapid changes in tree leaf chemistry induced by damage: Evidence for communication between plants.Science 221:277–279.Google Scholar
  4. Baldwin, I.T., Schultz, J.C., andWard, D. 1987. Patterns and sources of leaf tannin variation in yellow birch (Betula allegheniensis) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum).J. Chem. Ecol. 13:1069–1078.Google Scholar
  5. Bate-Smith, E.C. 1972. Attractants and repellents in higher animals, pp. 45–56,in J.B. Harborne (ed.). Phytochemical Ecology. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Bate-Smith, E.C. 1977. Astringent tannins ofAcer species.Phytochemistry 16:1421–1426.Google Scholar
  7. Bernays, E.A. 1981. Plant tannins and insect herbivores: An appraisal.Ecol. Entomol. 6:353–360.Google Scholar
  8. Cooper-Driver, G., Finch, S., Swain, T. andBernays, E. 1977. Seasonal variation in secondary plant compounds in relation to the palatability ofPteridium aquilinum.Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 5:177–183.Google Scholar
  9. Dunn, O.J. 1964. Multiple comparisons using rank sums.Technometrics 6:241–252.Google Scholar
  10. Elias, T.S. 1971. The genera of Fagaceae in the southeastern United States.J. Arnold Arbor. 52:159–195.Google Scholar
  11. Faeth, S.H. 1986. Indirect interactions between temporally separated herbivores mediated by the host plant.Ecology 67:479–494.Google Scholar
  12. Feeny, P.P. 1969. Inhibitory effect of oak leaf tannins on the hydrolysis of proteins by trypsin.Phytochemistry 8:2119–2126.Google Scholar
  13. Feeny, P. 1970. Seasonal changes in oak leaf tannins and nutrients as a cause of spring feeding by winter moth caterpillars.Ecology 51:565–581.Google Scholar
  14. Feeny, P.P., andBostock, H. 1968. Seasonal change in the tannin content of oak leaves.Phytochemistry 7:871–880.Google Scholar
  15. Goldstein, J.L., andSwain, T. 1965. The inhibition of enzymes by tannins.Phytochemistry 4:185–192.Google Scholar
  16. Hagerman, A.E. 1987. Radial diffusion method for determining tannin in plant extracts.J. Chem. Ecol. 13(3):437–449.Google Scholar
  17. Hagerman, A.E. andKlucher, K.M. 1986. Tannin-protein interactions, pp. 67–76,in J.B. Harborne and E. Middleton (eds.). Plant Flavonoids in Medicine: Biochemical, Pharmacological, and Structure-Activity Relationships. Alan R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Harborne, J.B. 1988. Introduction to Ecological Chemistry. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Koenig, W.D., andHeck, M.K. 1988. Ability of two species of oak woodland birds to subsist on acorns.Condor 90:705–708.Google Scholar
  20. Koenig, W.D., andMumme, R.L. 1987. Population Ecology of the Cooperatively Breeding Acorn Woodpecker. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  21. Levey, D.J. 1987. Sugar-tasting ability in tropical fruit-eating birds.Auk 104:173–179.Google Scholar
  22. Levin, D.A. 1976. The chemical defenses of plants to pathogens and herbivores.Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 7:121–160.Google Scholar
  23. Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., andNelson, A.L. 1951. American Wildlife and Plants. Dover Publications, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Martin, J.S., andMartin, M.M. 1982. Tannin assays in ecological studies: Lack of correlation between phenolics, proanthocyanidins and protein-precipitating constituents in mature foliage of six oak species.Oecologia 54:205–211.Google Scholar
  25. Ofcarcik, R.P., andBurns, E.E. 1971. Chemical and physical properties of selected acorns.J. Food Sci. 36:576–578.Google Scholar
  26. Schultz, J.C., andBaldwin, I.T. 1982. Oak leaf quality declines in response to defoliation by gypsy moth larvae.Science 217:149–151.Google Scholar
  27. Schultz, J.C., Nothnagle, P.J., andBaldwin, I.T. 1982. Individual and seasonal variation in leaf quality of two northern hardwood tree species.Am. J. Bot. 69:753–759.Google Scholar
  28. Short, H.L. 1976. Composition and squirrel use of acorns of black and white oak groups.J. Wildl. Manag. 40:479–483.Google Scholar
  29. Singleton, V.L., andKratzer, F.H. 1973. Plant phenolics, pp. 309–345,in Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods. Committee on Food Protection, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  30. Smallwood, P.D., andPeters, W.D. 1986. Grey squirrel food preferences: The effects of tannin and fat concentration.Ecology 67:168–174.Google Scholar
  31. Sokal, R.R., andRohlf, F.J. 1981. Biometry. W.H. Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Sork, V.L., Stacey, P., andAverett, J.E. 1983. Utilization of red oak acorns in non-bumper crop year.Oecologia 59:49–53.Google Scholar
  33. Swain, T. 1977. Secondary compounds as protective agents.Annu. Rev. Plant Physiol. 28:479–501.Google Scholar
  34. Swain, T. 1978a. Phenolics in the environment.Recent Adv. Phytochem. 12:617–640.Google Scholar
  35. Swain, T. 1978b. Plant-animal coevolution: A synoptic view of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, pp. 1–19,in J.B. Harborne (ed.). Biochemical Aspects of Plant and Animal Coevolution. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Swain, T. 1979. Tannins and lignins, pp. 657–682,in G.A. Rosenthal and D.H. Janzen (eds.). Herbivores: Their Interaction with Secondary Plant Metabolites. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  37. Wainio, W.W., andForbes, E.B. 1941. The chemical composition of forest fruits and nuts from Pennsylvania.J. Agric. Res. 62:627–635.Google Scholar
  38. Wisdom, C.S., Gonzalez-Coloma, A., andRundel, P.W. 1987. Ecological tannin assays: Evaluation of proanthocyanidins, protein binding assays and protein precipitating potential.Oecologia 72:395–401.Google Scholar
  39. Woodruff, B.J., Cantrell, R.P., Axtell, J.D., andButler, L.G. 1982. Inheritance of tannin quantity in sorghum.J. Hered. 73:214–218.Google Scholar
  40. Wunderlin, R.P. 1982. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Central Florida. University Presses of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Fleck
    • 1
  • James N. Layne
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EPO BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulder
  2. 2.Archbold Biological StationLake Placid

Personalised recommendations