Bradley County Cub Scouts went on a search for a different kind of buried treasure recently as they looked for acorns beneath freshly fallen leaves.
Five packs of Scouts met on a sunny Saturday afternoon under Cleveland’s “Big Old Tree” to collect the fallen acorns.
“They are going to take a few back to their packs to see what they can do as far as getting them to grow,” said Shannon Ward, Ocoee District commissioner of Cherokee Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.
The ancient oak tree stretches high and wide where North Ocoee Street and Ocoee Crossing meet. At 130 feet tall, the tree has been declared the largest in Cleveland. Its towering rise shades the property of Cleveland City Councilman Dale Hughes.
Cub Scout Ryan Lovelace said he found at least 20 acorns.
“You’re on the ground, you are getting closer to nature, and I like it,” Ryan said.
He said this will be his first time trying to grow a tree from an acorn.
“You have to plant it in the ground, make sure it’s sprouting and then let nature take its course,” Ryan said.
The project met the guidelines for projects the Cub Scouts are required to complete before going to the next rank.
“In Tigers, they have to visit historical places, and this fits that,” Ward said. “For the Wolves, Bears and Webelos it meets part of their nature activities, growing plants.”
Cub parent Tonya Lovelace said the activity also meets the conservation and outdoor activity guidelines for the Cub Scout packs.
“It was good,” Cub scout Samuel Fant said. “I like it because I like growing acorn trees.”
Fant said he is going to try to plant one in his yard. He said he hopes it grows as large as the tree it came from.
He said it will take “lots of minutes” for the tree to grow that tall.
Arborist John Thomason was on hand to give Cub Scouts, parents and leaders guidance on what to do when it comes time to plant the acorns.
“I know there is a good Scouting program in Cleveland. I’m just glad to see you all come together in one place,” Thomason said.
The acorns found that day were small. However, Thomason explained some oak trees yield acorns about the size of golf balls.
“When you go home and plant them, you are going to be continuing an extension of that tree in your yard,” Thomason said.
Acorns should be planted with the pointed end facing up, and about an inch and a half under the soil, Thomason said.
Based on the length of growth of the branches in one year, Thomason said he estimated the Big Old Tree be 100 to 120 year old.
“There is no guarantee,” Thomason said. “The only way to know for sure is to take it down, and we are not going to do that.”
The idea for the activity was presented to the Cub Scouts by Shade Tree board member Jan Cheek. Cheek planned to take some of the acorns to Bradley Central High School so they could be used in agriculture classes.