Mast is the fruit of forest trees and shrubs, such as acorns and other nuts. The term derives from the Old English mst, meaning the nuts of forest trees that have accumulated on the ground, especially those used historically for fattening domestic pigs, and as food resources for wildlife. In the aseasonal tropics of Southeast Asia, entire forests, including hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, are known to mast at irregular periods of 212 years. More generally, mast is considered the edible vegetative or reproductive parts produced by woody species of plants, i. e. trees and shrubs, that wildlife and some domestic animals consume as a food source. Mast is generated in large quantities during long-interval but regularly recurring phenological events known as mast seeding or masting. Such events are population-level phenomena hypothesized to be driven by a wide variety of factors, depending on the plant species involved, including availability of nutrients, economies of scale, weather patterns, and as a form of predator satiation. In turn, these pulses of masting contribute to many ecosystem-level functions and dynamics. Types of mast Mast can be divided into two basic types: hard mast and soft mast. Tree species such as oak, hickory, and beech produce a hard mastacorns, hickory nuts, and beechnuts. It has been traditional to turn pigs loose into forests to fatten on this form of mast in a practice known as pannage.
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