The acorn, or oak nut, is the nut of the oaks and their close relatives (genera Quercus and Lithocarpus, in the family Fagaceae). It usually contains a single seed (occasionally two seeds), enclosed in a tough, leathery shell, and borne in a cup-shaped cupule. Acorns are 1–6 cm long and 0.8–4 cm broad. Acorns take between 6 and 24 months (depending on the species) to mature; see List of Quercus species for details of oak classification, in which acorn morphology and phenology are important factors.
Acorns play an important role in forest ecology when oaks are the dominant species or are plentiful. The volume of the acorn crop may vary wildly, creating great abundance or great stress on the many animals dependent on acorns and the predators of those animals. Acorns, along with other nuts, are termed mast.
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