Common Name: Common Oak, English Oak, Pedunculate Oak.
Etymology: Quercus: Latin for Oak. robur: is Latin for strength, referring to hard wood.
Description: Long living (600-700 years, records show trees as old as 1200 years) deciduous tree 20-40m tall with large spreading crown. It grows reasonably quickly for the first 120 years or so and then slows, even shrinking in old age to extend its life (a bit like us really).
Foliage: Leaves are between 7-14cm long with 4-5 deep lobes with smooth edges and nearly sessile. New green leaves come out in Spring and turn coppery-brown before falling in autumn.
Bark/Trunk: In youth the bark is silvery brown but becomes rough and deeply fissured with age. Mature trunks generally range in circumference from 4m-12m but have been recorded up to 21m.
Flowers: Long yellow catkins of both male and female flowers on same tree that are pollinated by wind.
Fruit: Acorns are 20-25mm long, pedunculate 30-70mm with 1-4 acorns. Acorns will not be produced on a tree under the age of 40 years and peaks between 80-120 years.
Growth Requirements: Prefers moist loamy to heavy clay soil and is not bothered by it being acid or alkaline. The Oak will grow in both semi-shade to full sun position, is drought and strong wind tolerant but will not tolerate direct ocean exposure. Prefers cool to Mediterranean type climate.
Uses: Large specimen tree in park or large garden, shade tree. It is an excellent tree at attracting wildlife such as insects, birds and mammals in its native European environment (rather good in Australia too). Has been used for thousand of years as a timber source due to its strength, durability and water hardiness. It was the primary timber for boat building in the 19th century and is still used today for architecture, flooring and wine barrels (it does however take over 150 years before it is ready for use in construction). It also has many medical and antiseptic uses and is used for live-stock food, charcoal, compost, ink, tannin and fuel. Overuse in the last 2 centuries has caused great decline in its natural habitat but now the Forestry Commission is promoting active plantings that is seeing the gradual reintroduction of forests particularly in England.
Propagation: By cutting or seed. In nature seeds (acorns) reproduce mainly through forgetful or dying squirrels or jays, the majority are either eaten by animals or rot on the ground. When propagating seed it should be placed in bucket of water and any floaters discarded, stratify your seeds and leave them in the fridge for a month before planting.
- Botanica’s Pocket Trees & Shrubs.