Mast


Many species of trees and shrubs have developed a seed dispersal system that benefits many species of wildlife. Producing mast in the form of nuts or berries encourages mammals such as squirrels or birds to eat or transport the seeds contained within the fruit to other areas. Oaks may produce thousands of acorns in the hopes that a Blue Jay or Turkey will accidentally scratch one into the forest soil. Dogwoods and juneberries will produce fruit attractive to migrating birds, which will pass the seeds to neighboring areas during migration. This complex reproductive strategy is essential to the inner workings of many ecological systems in Wisconsin.

Although concerns for oak and other dominant tree species are particularly important, especially in relation to game species (such as deer or gray squirrels), other mast species also provide important benefits.

Examples of Mast-Producing Plants That Will Benefit Wildlife in Wisconsin

​Mast Species ​Examples of Uses by Wildlife
​Oaks (Acorns), Beech and Hazel Nuts
​Deer, Bear, Wild Turkey, Woodpeckers, Blue Jay, Wood Duck, Squirrels
Maple and Ash Seeds​ ​Small MAmmals, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks
​Aspen, Birch, and Hazel Buds ​Ruffed Grouse
​Yellow and White Birch Seeds ​Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch
​Conifer Cones and Seeds (such as White Cedar, Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, White Pine, Common Juniper, Red Cedar, Canada Yew)
​Red Squirrels, White-Winged and Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Pine Grosbeak
​Late summer soft mast (such as juneberries, blueberries, cherries, dogwoods, and elderberries)
​Important to a number of birds and mammals as they prepare for migration and winter
​Soft mast retained in fall and through winter (such as mountain ash, cranberry and nannyberry, winterberry) ​Waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks, and other bird and mammal species
Vine (such as wild grape)​ ​Numerous bird and mammal species