List of Quercus species
An OAK is a tree or shrub in the genus QUERCUS (/ˈkwɜːrkəs/ ;
Latin "oak tree") of the beech family,
Fagaceae . There are
approximately 600 extant species of oaks . The common name "oak" also
appears in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus
(stone oaks), as well as in those of unrelated species such as
Grevillea robusta (silky oaks) and the
Casuarinaceae (she-oaks). The
genus Quercus is native to the
Northern Hemisphere , and includes
deciduous and evergreen species extending from cool temperate to
tropical latitudes in the
Europe , and North Africa
North America contains the largest number of oak species, with
approximately 90 occurring in the United States, while
Mexico has 160
species of which 109 are endemic. The second greatest center of oak
diversity is China, which contains approximately 100 species.
Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with lobate margins in many
species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaf with smooth margins.
Also, the acorns contain tannic acid , as do the leaves, which helps
to guard from fungi and insects. Many deciduous species are
marcescent , not dropping dead leaves until spring. In spring, a
single oak tree produces both male flowers (in the form of catkins )
and small female flowers. The fruit is a nut called an acorn or oak
nut borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule ; each acorn
contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to
mature, depending on their species. The live oaks are distinguished
for being evergreen , but are not actually a distinct group and
instead are dispersed across the genus.
* 1 Classification
* 2 Hybridization
* 3 Uses
* 4 Biodiversity and ecology
* 5 Genetics
* 6 Diseases and pests
* 7 Toxicity
* 8 Cultural significance
* 8.1 National symbol
* 8.1.1 Oaks as regional and state symbols
* 8.1.2 Political use
* 8.2 Religious
* 8.3 Historical
* 8.4 Famous oak trees
* 9 Historical note on Linnaean species
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 Bibliography
* 13 External links
The oak tree is a flowering plant . Oaks may be divided into two
genera (sometimes referred to as subgenera ) and a number of sections
Oak at Schönderling See also:
List of Quercus species
The genus Quercus is divided into the following sections:
* Sect. Quercus (synonyms
Lepidobalanus and Leucobalanus), the white
North America . Styles are short; acorns
mature in 6 months and taste sweet or slightly bitter; the inside of
an acorn shell is hairless. The leaves mostly lack a bristle on their
lobe tips, which are usually rounded. The type species is Quercus
* Sect. Mesobalanus, Hungarian oak and its relatives of
Asia. Styles long; acorns mature in about 6 months and taste bitter;
the inside of this acorn's shell is hairless. The section Mesobalanus
is closely related to section Quercus and sometimes included in it.
* Sect. Cerris, the Turkey oak and its relatives of
Europe and Asia.
Styles long; acorn mature in 18 months and taste very bitter. The
inside of the acorn's shell is hairless. Its leaves typically have
sharp lobe tips, with bristles at the lobe tip.
* Sect. Protobalanus, the canyon live oak and its relatives , in
United States and northwest
Mexico . Styles short, acorns
mature in 18 months and taste very bitter. The inside of the acorn
shell appears woolly. Leaves typically have sharp lobe tips, with
bristles at the lobe tip.
* Sect. Lobatae (synonym Erythrobalanus), the red oaks of North
Central America and northern
South America . Styles long;
acorns mature in 18 months and taste very bitter. The inside of the
acorn shell appears woolly. The actual nut is encased in a thin,
clinging, papery skin. Leaves typically have sharp lobe tips, with
spiny bristles at the lobe.
Old oak tree on the shore of Lake Koluvere,
* The ring-cupped oaks of eastern and southeastern
Asia . Evergreen
trees growing 10–40 m (33–131 ft) tall. They are distinct from
subgenus Quercus in that they have acorns with distinctive cups
bearing concrescent rings of scales; they commonly also have densely
clustered acorns, though this does not apply to all of the species.
Encyclopedia of Life
Encyclopedia of Life and Flora of China treats
Cyclobalanopsis as a distinct genus , but some taxonomists consider it
a subgenus of Quercus. It contains about 150 species.
Cyclobalanopsis are common in the evergreen subtropical laurel forests
which extend from southern Japan, southern Korea, and Taiwan across
southern China and northern Indochina to the eastern Himalayas, in
association with trees of genus
Castanopsis and the laurel family
A hybrid white oak, possibly
Quercus stellata × Q. muhlenbergii
Interspecific hybridization is quite common among oaks but usually
between species within the same section only and most common in the
white oak group (subgenus Quercus, section Quercus; see LIST OF
QUERCUS SPECIES ). Inter-section hybrids, except between species of
sections Quercus and Mesobalanus, are unknown. Recent systematic
studies appear to confirm a high tendency of Quercus species to
hybridize because of a combination of factors. White oaks are unable
to discriminate against pollination by other species in the same
section. Because they are wind pollinated and they have weak internal
barriers to hybridization, hybridization produces functional seeds and
fertile hybrid offspring. Ecological stresses, especially near
habitat margins, can also cause a breakdown of mate recognition as
well as a reduction of male function (pollen quantity and quality) in
one parent species.
Frequent hybridization among oaks has consequences for oak
populations around the world; most notably, hybridization has produced
large populations of hybrids with copious amounts of introgression ,
and the evolution of new species. Frequent hybridization and high
levels of introgression have caused different species in the same
populations to share up to 50% of their genetic information. Having
high rates of hybridization and introgression produces genetic data
that often does not differentiate between two clearly morphologically
distinct species, but instead differentiates populations. Numerous
hypotheses have been proposed to explain how oak species are able to
remain morphologically and ecologically distinct with such high levels
of gene flow , but the phenomenon is still largely a mystery to
Fagaceae , or beech family, to which the oaks belong, is a very
slow evolving clade compared to other angiosperms , and the patterns
of hybridization and introgression in Quercus pose a great challenge
to the concept of a species since a species is often defined as a
group of “actually or potentially interbreeding populations which
are reproductively isolated from other such groups.” By this
definition, many species of Quercus would be lumped together according
to their geographic and ecological habitat, despite clear distinctions
in morphology and, to a large extent, genetic data.
Heart of oak beams of the frame of Saint-Girons church in Monein
Oak wood has a density of about 0.75 g /cm3 (0.43 oz/cu in ) creating
great strength and hardness. The wood is very resistant to insect and
fungal attack because of its high tannin content. It also has very
appealing grain markings, particularly when quartersawn .
was common on high status
Viking longships in the 9th and 10th
centuries. The wood was hewn from green logs, by axe and wedge, to
produce radial planks, similar to quarter-sawn timber. Wide,
quarter-sawn boards of oak have been prized since the
Middle Ages for
use in interior panelling of prestigious buildings such as the
debating chamber of the House of Commons in
London and in the
construction of fine furniture.
Oak wood, from
Quercus robur and
Quercus petraea , was used in
Europe for the construction of ships ,
especially naval men of war , until the 19th century, and was the
principal timber used in the construction of European timber-framed
buildings. Today oak wood is still commonly used for furniture making
and flooring, timber frame buildings, and for veneer production.
Barrels in which wines , sherry , and spirits such as brandy , Irish
Scotch whisky and
Bourbon whiskey are aged are made from
European and American oak. The use of oak in wine can add many
different dimensions to wine based on the type and style of the oak.
Oak barrels, which may be charred before use, contribute to the
colour, taste, and aroma of the contents, imparting a desirable oaky
vanillin flavour to these drinks. The great dilemma for wine producers
is to choose between French and American oakwoods. French oaks
(Quercus robur, Q. petraea) give the wine greater refinement and are
chosen for the best wines since they increase the price compared to
those aged in American oak wood. American oak contributes greater
texture and resistance to ageing, but produces more powerful wine
Oak wood chips are used for smoking fish, meat, cheeses ,
and other foods.
Sherry maturing in oak barrels
Japanese oak is used in the making of professional drums from the
Yamaha Drums . The higher density of oak gives the drum a
brighter and louder tone compared to traditional drum materials such
as maple and birch . In hill states of India, besides fuelwood and
timber, the local people use oak wood for making agricultural
implements. The leaves are used as fodder during lean period and
bedding for livestock. A cross section of the trunk of a cork
oak , Quercus suber
The bark of the cork oak is used to produce wine stoppers (corks).
This species grows in the
Mediterranean Sea region, with
Algeria , and
Morocco producing most of the world's supply.
Of the North American oaks, the northern red oak is the one of the
most prized of the red oak group for lumber, much of which is marketed
as red oak regardless of the species of origin. It is not good for
outdoor use due to its open capillaries unless the wood is treated. If
the wood is properly treated with preservatives, it will not rot as
quickly as cured white oak heartwood. The closed cell structure of
white oaks prevent them from absorbing preservatives. With northern
red oak, one can blow air through an end grain piece 10 inches long to
make bubbles come out in a glass of water. These openings give fungus
easy access when the finish deteriorates.
Shumard oak , a member of
the red oak subgenus, provides timber which is described as
"mechanically superior" to Northern Red oak.
Cherrybark oak is another
type of red oak which provides excellent timber.
The standard for the lumber of the white oak group – all of which
is marketed as white oak – is the
Quercus alba . White oak is often
used to make wine barrels . The wood of the deciduous pedunculate oak
and sessile oak accounts for most of the European oak production, but
evergreen species, such as
Holm oak and cork oak also produce valuable
The bark of the White
Oak is dried and used in medical preparations.
Oak bark is also rich in tannin , and is used by tanners for tanning
leather . Acorns are used for making flour or roasted for acorn
Oak forest in
Oak on sandy earth.
Oak forest on the beach in Njivice ,
Oak galls were used for centuries as a main ingredient in iron gall
ink , a kind of manuscript ink, harvested at a specific time of year.
In Korea, oak bark is used to make shingles for traditional roof
Oak has been listed as one of the 38 substances used to prepare Bach
flower remedies , a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its
effect on health. However, according to
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK , "there is
no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure
or prevent any type of disease, including cancer".
BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY
Oaks are keystone species in a wide range of habitats from
Mediterranean semi-desert to subtropical rainforest. For example, oak
trees are important components of hardwood forests, and certain
species are particularly known to grow in associations with members of
Ericaceae in oak-heath forests . A number of kinds of truffles ,
including the two well known varieties, the black Périgord truffle
and the white Piedmont truffle, have symbiotic relationships with oak
European pied flycatcher is an example of an animal species
that often depends upon oak trees.
Many species of oaks are under threat of extinction in the wild,
largely due to land use changes, livestock grazing and unsustainable
harvesting. For example, over the past 200 years, large areas of oak
forest in the highlands of Mexico,
Central America and the northern
Andes have been cleared for coffee plantations and cattle ranching.
There is a continuing threat to these forests from exploitation for
timber, fuelwood and charcoal. In the USA, entire oak ecosystems have
declined due to a combination of factors still imperfectly known, but
thought to include fire suppression, increased consumption of acorns
by growing mammal populations, herbivory of seedlings, and introduced
pests. In a recent survey, 78 wild oak species have been identified
as being in danger of extinction, from a global total of over 500
species. The proportion under threat may be much higher in reality,
as there is insufficient information about over 300 species, making it
near impossible to form any judgement of their status.
In the Himalayan region of India, oak forests are being invaded by
pine forests due to the increase in temperature. The associated
species of pine forest may cross frontiers and become new elements of
the oak forests.
In eastern North America, rare species of oak trees include scarlet
Quercus coccinea ), chinkapin oak (
Quercus muehlenbergii ), and
post oak (
Quercus stellata ).
The mature trees shed varying numbers of acorns annually. Scientist
suggest that shedding excess numbers allows the oaks to satiate nut
gathering species, improving the chances of germination. One in 10,000
acorns results in an actual tree.
Beginning November 1st 2011, a project began to sequence the entire
oak genome. The goal of the project is to create a high resolution
sequence of the
Quercus robur genome, and to study genetic diversity
by comparison of the genomes of different species. Current research
has compiled genomic data from many different sources and techniques
to create a genome map with 89% coverage of the genome. The project is
still in the process of annotating this genome.
DISEASES AND PESTS
List of Lepidoptera that feed on oaks
mildew on pedunculate oak
Sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) is a water mould that can
kill oaks within just a few weeks.
Oak wilt , caused by the fungus
Ceratocystis fagacearum (a fungus closely related to Dutch elm disease
), is also a lethal disease of some oaks, particularly the red oaks
(the white oaks can be infected but generally live longer). Other
dangers include wood-boring beetles , as well as root rot in older
trees which may not be apparent on the outside, often being discovered
only when the trees come down in a strong gale .
Oak apples are galls
on oaks made by the gall wasp . The female kermes scale causes galls
to grow on kermes oak . Oaks are used as food plants by the larvae of
Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth ) species such as the gypsy moth ,
Lymantria dispar, which can defoliate oak and other broadleaved tree
species in North America.
A considerable number of galls are found on oak leaves, buds,
flowers, roots, etc. Examples are oak artichoke gall , oak marble gall
, oak apple gall, knopper gall , and spangle gall .
A number of species of fungus cause powdery mildew on oak species. In
Europe the species
Erysiphe alphitoides is the most common cause.
A new and yet little understood disease of mature oaks, acute oak
decline , has been reported in parts of the UK since 2009.
Oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) has become a
serious threat in the UK since 2006. The caterpillars of this species
defoliate the trees, and are hazardous to human health; their bodies
are covered with poisonous hairs which can cause rashes and
In California, oaks are affected by the fungal disease Foamy bark
The leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous to cattle ,
horses , sheep , and goats in large amounts due to the toxin tannic
acid , and cause kidney damage and gastroenteritis . Symptoms of
poisoning include lack of appetite , depression, constipation,
diarrhea (which may contain blood), blood in urine , and colic . The
exception to livestock and oak toxicity is the domestic pig , which
may be fed entirely on acorns in the right conditions, and has
traditionally been pastured in oak woodlands (such as the Spanish
dehesa and the English system of pannage ) for hundreds of years.
Acorns are also edible to humans, after leaching of the tannins.
This section IS IN A LIST FORMAT THAT MAY BE BETTER PRESENTED USING
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Oak branches on the coat of arms of
The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been
chosen as the national tree of many countries. Already an ancient
Germanic symbol (in the form of the
Donar Oak , for instance),
certainly since the early nineteenth century, it stands for the nation
Germany and oak branches are thus displayed on some German coins,
both of the former
Deutsche Mark and the current
Euro currency. In
2004 the Arbor Day Foundation held a vote for the official National
Tree of the
United States of America . In November 2004, the United
States Congress passed legislation designating the oak as America's
Other countries have also designated the oak as their national tree
Estonia , France
Serbia , and
Oaks As Regional And State Symbols
The oak is the emblem of
County Londonderry in
Northern Ireland , as
a vast amount of the county was covered in forests of the tree until
relatively recently. The name of the county comes from the city of
Derry , which originally in Irish was known as Doire meaning oak.
County Kildare derives its name from the town of Kildare
which originally in Irish was Cill Dara meaning the Church of the Oak
Iowa designated the oak as its official state tree in 1961; and the
Oak is the state tree of
Northern Red Oak is the provincial tree of
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island ,
as well as the state tree of
New Jersey . The Live
Oak is the state
tree of Georgia, USA .
The oak is a national symbol from the Basque Country , specially in
the province of
The coat-of-arms of
Norway , and
features oak trees.
The coat-of-arms of the municipality
Norway features an
Oak leaves are traditionally an important part of German Army
regalia. The Nazi party used the traditional German eagle, standing
atop of a swastika inside a wreath of oak leaves. It is also known as
the Iron Eagle. During the Third Reich of Nazi Germany, oak leaves
were used for military valor decoration on the Knights Cross of the
Iron Cross. They also symbolize rank in the
United States Armed Forces
. A gold oak leaf indicates an O-4 (Major or Lt.
Commander ), whereas
a silver oak leaf indicates an O-5 (Lt. Colonel or
Arrangements of oak leaves, acorns and sprigs indicate different
branches of the
United States Navy Staff corps officers.
are embroidered onto the covers (hats) worn by field grade officers
and flag officers in the
United States armed services.
If a member of the
United States Army or Air Force earns multiple
awards of the same medal, then instead of wearing a ribbon or medal
for each award, he or she wears one metal representation of an "oak
leaf cluster " attached to the appropriate ribbon for each subsequent
The oak tree is used as a symbol by a number of political parties. It
is the symbol of Toryism (on account of the
Royal Oak ) and the
Conservative Party in the
United Kingdom , and formerly of the
Progressive Democrats in Ireland and the
Democrats of the Left in
Italy . In the cultural arena, the oakleaf is the symbol of the
National Trust (UK),
The Woodland Trust , and The
Royal Oak Foundation
Grīdnieku ancient oak in Rumbas parish,
Latvia , girth 8.27m,
Greek mythology , the oak is the tree sacred to
Zeus , king of the
gods. In Zeus's oracle in
Epirus , the sacred oak was the
centerpiece of the precinct, and the priests would divine the
pronouncements of the god by interpreting the rustling of the oak's
In Baltic and
Slavic mythology , the oak is the sacred tree of
Pērkons , Lithuanian Perkūnas, Prussian Perkūns and Slavic
Perun , the god of thunder and one of the most important deities in
the Baltic and Slavic pantheons.
Celtic polytheism , the name of the oak tree was part of the
Proto-Celtic word for 'druid': *derwo-weyd- > *druwid- ; however,
Proto-Celtic *derwo- (and *dru-) can also be adjectives for 'strong'
and 'firm', so Ranko Matasovic interprets that *druwid- may mean
'strong knowledge'. As in other Indo-European faiths,
Taranis , being
a thunder god, was associated with the oak tree. The Indo-Europeans
worshiped the oak and connected it with a thunder or lightning god;
"tree" and drus may also be cognate with "Druid," the Celtic priest to
whom the oak was sacred. There has even been a study that shows that
oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than any other tree of
the same height.
Norse mythology , the oak was sacred to the thunder god,
Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic
Bible , the oak tree at
Shechem is the site where Jacob buries
the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4) . In addition, Joshua
erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord
(Josh. 24.25–7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites
as "Oaks of Righteousness." Absalom's long hair (2 Samuel 18:9) gets
caught in an oak tree, and allows Joab to kill him.
The badnjak is central tradition in
Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church Christmas
celebration where young and straight oak, is ceremonially felled early
on the morning of
In some traditions of
Wicca , the
Oak King is one of the two faces of
the Sun God. He is born on Yule and rules from Ostara to Mabon.
Several singular oak trees, such as the
Royal Oak in Britain and the
Charter Oak in the United States, are of great historical or cultural
importance; for a list of important oaks, see Individual oak trees .
The Proscribed Royalist, 1651 ", a famous painting by John Everett
Millais , depicted a Royalist fleeing from Cromwell 's forces and
hidden in an oak. Millais painted the picture in
Hayes, Kent , from a
local oak tree that became known as the Millais Oak.
Approximately 50 km west of Toronto, Canada is the town of Oakville,
ON , famous for its history as a shipbuilding port on Lake Ontario.
The city of
Raleigh, N.C. , is known as "The City of Oaks."
Jurupa Oak tree – a clonal colony of Quercus palmeria or
Palmer’s oak found in Riverside County, California – is an
estimated 13,000 years old.
Large groups of very old oak trees are rare. One of the oldest groups
of oak trees, found in Poland, is about 480 years old, which was
assessed by dendrochronological methods.
In Republican Rome a crown of oak leaves was given to those who had
saved a life of a citizen in battle; it was called the "civic oak".
FAMOUS OAK TREES
List of notable trees
List of notable trees
Tamme-Lauri oak is the
thickest and oldest tree in Estonia. The Big Oak, by Gustave
Emancipation Oak is designated one of the 10 Great Trees of
the World by the National Geographic Society and is part of the
National Historic Landmark district of Hampton University.
Ivenack Oak which is one of the largest trees in
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern , Germany, and is approximately 800
Bowthorpe Oak , located in
Bourne, Lincolnshire , is thought
to be 1,000 years old. It was featured in the Guinness Book of World
Records and was filmed for a TV documentary for its astonishing
* The Minchenden (or Chandos) Oak, in Southgate,
London , is said to
be the largest oak tree in
England (already 27 feet or 8.2 meters in
girth in the nineteenth century), and is perhaps 800 years old.
Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak
tree. Located in
Mandeville, Louisiana , it is estimated to be up to
1,500 years old with a trunk that measures 38 ft (11.6 meters).
Major Oak is an 800- to 1000-year-old tree located in Sherwood
Forest , Nottinghamshire. According to folklore , it was used by Robin
Hood for shelter.
Oak is a 500-year-old southern live oak located in Long
Beach, Mississippi .
* The Crouch
Oak is believed to have originated in the 11th Century
and is located in Addlestone, Surrey . It is an important symbol of
the town with many local businesses adopting its name. It used to mark
the boundary of Windsor Great Park. Legend says that Queen Elizabeth I
stopped by it and had a picnic.
Angel Oak is a southern live oak located in
Angel Oak Park on
John\'s Island near
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina . The
Angel Oak is
estimated to be in excess of 400–500 years old, stands 66.5 ft (20.3
m) tall, and measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference.
* The Kaiser's Oak, located at the village of Gommecourt in
France, named in honour of Kaiser
Wilhelm II , symbolically marked
from late 1914 to April 1917 the furthest point in the West of the
German Imperial Army during
World War One .
Wye Oak in
Maryland was the United States' largest white oak
tree before it blew down in a storm in 2002, at an estimated age of
HISTORICAL NOTE ON LINNAEAN SPECIES
Linnaeus described only five species of oak from eastern North
America, based on general leaf form. These were white oak , Quercus
alba; chestnut oak , Q. montana; red oak , Q. rubra; willow oak Q.
phellos; and water oak , Q. nigra. Because he was dealing with
confusing leaf forms, the Q. montana and Q. rubra specimens actually
included mixed foliage of more than one species.
List of Quercus species
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