English Oak Tree

Summary

The English oak is probably the most famous tree in Britain and is the national emblem, even though in recent decades the numbers have fallen considerably. From a native species point of view, it is now the most common tree in Britain after the Birch.

The Oak, a deciduous tree, has taken part in many historic moments in British history which along with its distinctive acorn (seed) has led it to be known by many.

Oak is actually a family of trees (Quercus) that have over 500 varieties around the world.

The English oak is 1 of 2 types of Oak natively found in Britain, the other which has been confused with the English Oak is the Sessile Oak.

Quick Facts

Scientific Name

Quercus Robur

Fruit

Acorn

Mature Height

12-21 Meters Tall (40-70 Ft)

Oldest Example

Est. 1000+ Years

What else is English Oak known as?

The English Oak has many names. I guess this is because it can be found in temperate climates across most of Europe. Names include the Common Oak, Brown Oak, Truffle Oak, European Oak, French Oak, and the Pedunculate Oak.

What is the size of the English Oak tree?

Trunks of the grand English Oak Tree can have a range in circumference of 4m (13ft) to 12m (39ft). The thickest trunked Oak in Britain is the Majesty Oak, that has a circumference of 12.2m (40ft). Outside of Britain, the Kaive Oak in Lativia has a slightly smaller 10.4m (33ft) girth, but it is just a youngster at about 400 years old.

The mature height is from 12m (40ft) to 21m (70ft) though larger examples can be found up to 30m (100ft) tall

English oak acorns

What are the fruits or seeds of English Oak TRees?

Acorns. The English Oak Tree won’t usually start growing acorns until it reaches 25-30 years of age.

The flowers are long, yellow, inconspicuous hanging catkins which will grow in spring with the leaves. The acorns will then develop after air pollination and grow to a size of about 2-2.5cm long on long stalks in a collection of 1-5 together. As the acorn ripens it will turn a brown colour and falls to the floor in Autumn. Acorns will sprout in the following spring.

english oak leaves

What do English Oak Tree leaves look like?

The English Oak leaves are a dark green, growing to 7-13cm (3-5 in) in length on short stalks. The leaf has rounded lobes with smooth edges – usually 6-14. The leaves will burst in late spring (mid-May) and grow in bunches. The leaves will drop in Autumn but won’t change colour on the tree.

English oak tree bark

What does English Oak TRee bark look like?

Mature trees greyish-black and deeply furrowed.

How to identify the English Oak Tree?

In the UK you are only likely to see 2 native species. The other Oak is the Sessile Oak.

The easiest way to identify the differences between these is by looking at the acorns , furthermore the leaves

The English oak has acorns with long stems, the Sessile Oak has acorns with no stems.

The English oak has leaves with short stems, the Sessile Oak has leaves with long stems.

There may be other varieties of Oak that have been cultivated in the UK particularly from the North America, where there are 90 species. The most common coming from the Americas is the Red Oak

Red oak can be identified by its bark, which features ridges that appear to have shiny stripes down the centre. There are a few other oaks have bark with this appearance in the upper part of the tree, but the northern red oak is the only tree with the striping down the complete trunk. Additionally, the leaves turn red on the tree in Autumn.

What wildlife is the English Oak Tree valuable to?

The autumn fall of the tree easily breaks down to create leaf mulch that is the home to invertebrates and fungi.

The Marsh tit and Pied Flycatcher like to use the holes and crevices often found in the trunk as a place to nest

Sometimes, holes made in the trunk by woodpeckers becomes a roost for Bats, allowing them to be close to the insects that call the Oak home.

if you enjoyed this post, you can find other posts in the A-Z of Trees series here

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