40 Best Nuts

Chestnut oak acorns vary in size and are some of the first acorns to fall in autumn.

The list below ranks in order the top 40 favorite wildlife preferred nuts.

The ranking is determined using two criteria to describe the role of the plant food in animals’ diets:

1) the number of species that utilizes the food,

2) how significant the food is within an individual species overall diet

So while a food may not be popular across a large number of species, it still could be strongly preferred by a few species. By coordinating with a rehabber’s specific needs, a forager can decide which plants to best target for collection.

Be sure to check any item listed below  in the database to see if there are any toxicological warnings associated with that plant or part of the plant.

Common Name Botanical Name
1 oak, generally Quercus spp.
2 beech, American Fagus grandifolia
3 oak, northern red Quercus rubra
4 oak, chinkapin Quercus muehlenbergii
5 hickory, generally Carya spp.
6 hickory, pignut Carya glabra
7 walnut, generally Juglans spp.
8 hickory, shagbark Carya ovata
9 walnut, black Juglans nigra
10 hazelnut Corylus spp.
11 oak, white Quercus alba
12 hickory, mockernut Carya alba
13 oak, southern red Quercus falcata
14 butternut Juglans cinerea
15 hophornbeam, eastern Ostrya virginiana
16 oak, bear Quercus ilicifolia
17 oak, black Quercus velutina
18 oak, willow Quecus phellos
19 chestnut, generally Castanea spp.
20 hickory, shagbark Carya ovata
21 chinquapin, Allegheny Castanea pumila
22 oak, chestnut Quercus prinus
23 oak, pin Quercus palustris
24 oak, southern live Quercus virginiana
25 peanut Arachis hypogaea
26 oak, swamp chestnut Quercus  michauxii
27 oak, scarlet Quercus coccinea
28 oak, black Quercus nigra
29 oak, swamp white Quercus bicolor
30 oak, turkey Quercus laevis
31 oak, Shumard’s Quercus shumardii
32 pecan Carya illinoinensis
33 oak, overcup Quercus lyrata
34 hickory, mockernut Carya tomentosa
35 oak, bluejack Quercus incana
36 oak,post Quercus stellata
37 oak, pin Quercus palustris
38 chestnut, American Castanea dentata
39 hazelnut, American Corylus americana
40 hazelnut, beaked Corylus cornuta

What Criteria is Used for the Ranking the Lists?

The main resources used to build this website usually rated foods in three levels of preference: high, middle and low. But, a plant may be high preference in Michigan but lower preference in Virginia.  So the preference factor has some built in limitations. Still, it is factor #1 in the algorithm.

The second factor considered was how many species of animals ate the part of the plant in consideration. A seed that 29 species of animals eats would outrank a seed that only 5 species eats.

From a foragers perspective, it would be ideal to collect the most  highly preferable foods that feed the widest range of rehabilitation animals, right? Well maybe not.

Consider if a rehabilitator only works with foxes. To research which foods would be most beneficial in the “fox only” scenario, the only consideration that she would care about is the most preferred food for foxes, not how many other species ate it.

So the ranking lists are the most general broad interpretation of the data. You will want to generate your own lists from the search feature to find out just what you want to target for collection.


References Used with Permission

The Fire Effects Information System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).

Fire Effects Information System (2017) Plant species ecology literature reviews. Retrieved various dates from https://www.feis-crs.org/feis/

Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., Nelson, A.L. (1951). American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. New York: Dover Publications.

Scott, M. (2013). Songbird Diet Index. National  Wildlife  Rehabilitators  Association, St. Cloud, MN.