Tree of the month - Common Oak (Quercus Robur)
Welcome back to our blog, where this month we have for you arguably one of the most recognisable and common woodland trees in the United Kingdom. The common oak tree is much loved within the United Kingdom, both for its look and its uses which we will explore with our 10 quick facts on the Quercus Robur:
1) For a very long time, Oak was the primary building component of the Royal Navys fleet, owing to it being an extremely tough hardwood. Admiral Nelson ordered the planting of thousands of Oak trees for the repair of HMS Victory, which were harvested in 2004 for that very job. Better late than never I suppose.
2) The common oak supported the highest number of insects of any plant in the united kingdom, allowing more than 400 individual species of insect herbavors to live in and amongst its foliage.
3) Propegation of the tree has been carried out for thousands of years by the Euasian Jay bird, which takes the fallen acorns and buries them undamaged for later. A group of 50 - 70 jays can bury upwards of 500,000 acorns in the course of 4 weeks which is the main reason why the common oak is, well, so common.
4) The Bowthorpe Oak, found in Linconshire is thought to be the United Kingdoms oldest oak, estimated to be the countries oldest of its kind. Measured at 40 feet and 4 inches around, this lad is girthy enough to have actualy served as a dining room in the past owing to it being hollow on the inside.
5) On the subject of sitting in trees, Robin Hood purportedly found himself a hiding spot on the Major Oak in Sherwood forest. Like the Bowthorpe, Major is a record holder for the largest oak, 92 feet around and 23 tonnes making him the biggest of his kind. While hiding out from authorities isn't really the main purpose of Major anymore, he still provides shelter and accomidation to millions of beasties big and small.
6) The common oak was worshipped by the Gauls as a protector, seen to take lightning strikes in order to save the other trees and people of the forests. The tree remained an important part of the French culture, being planted in the revolution to reprisent freedom and eventually winding up as part of the National Emblem of France
7) Q. Robur is most often mistaken for the Sessile oak (Q. Petraea), which grows in higher areas. The name sessile comes from the attachment of its acorns, being bunched up tightly together. The sessile is the national tree of Norther Ireland and once held the record for the oldest tree in the UK. The Pontfadog oak in Northern Wales was 1,200 years old when ti was unfortunatly blown down in 2013.
8) In 2016, the Genome of the Q. Robur was fully sequenced, comprising of 12 chromasome pairs and found to be half the size of the human genome. This will allow scientists a far greater understanding of the species, what differs it from other oaks and how we can further protect them in the future.
9) Common Oak is used in the manufacture of barrels for the aging and maturing of Wines and spirits. In particular, the colour and flavour of whisky comes directly fro the tannines found in the rood of the barrel being used. Often times, barrels once used for wine and port will be used to age spirits and impart an essence of the last liquid into the new one.
10) Disease is a major issue for the oak, and illnesses such as Acute Oak Decline, fungal diseas such as Powdery Mildew and Sudden Oak Death are all things that owners of Q. Robur trees should be on the look out for. If you spot any symptoms of these diseas, give us a call or an email for a no obligation free quote.