Quercus robur, commonly known as common oak, pedunculate oak, European
oak or English oak, is a species of flowering plant in the beech and
oak family Fagaceae. It is native to most of
Europe west of the
Caucasus. The tree is widely cultivated in temperate regions and has
escaped into the wild in scattered parts of China and North
3 Ecological importance
4 Commercial forestry
6.1 Basque Country
8 See also
10 External links
Ancient pedunculate oaks at
Wistman's Wood in Devon, England
Quercus robur (
Latin quercus, "oak" + robur "strength, hard timber")
is the type species of the genus (the species by which the oak genus
Quercus is defined), and a member of the white oak section Quercus
section Quercus. The populations in Italy, southeast Europe, and Asia
Minor and the
Caucasus are sometimes treated as separate species, Q.
brutia Tenore, Q. pedunculiflora K. Koch and Q. haas Kotschy
A close relative is the sessile oak (Q. petraea), which shares much of
Q. robur is distinguished from this species by its leaves
having only a very short stalk (petiole) 3–8 mm
(0.12–0.31 in) long, and by its pedunculate (stalked) acorns.
The two often hybridise in the wild, the hybrid being known as Quercus
Q. robur should not be confused with Q. rubra, the red oak, which is a
native of North America and only distantly related.
An old English oak in Baginton, England
Seedling sprouting from its acorn
An oak sprout in a glass container
Quercus robur is a large deciduous tree, with circumference of grand
oaks from 4 m (13 ft) to exceptional 12 m
(39 ft). The Majesty
Oak with a circumference of
12.2 m (40 ft) is the thickest tree in Great
Britain, and the Kaive
Latvia with a
circumference of 10.2 m (33 ft) is the thickest tree in
Northern Europe.
Quercus robur has lobed and nearly
sessile (very short-stalked) leaves 7–14 cm (2.8–5.5 in)
long. Flowering takes place in mid spring, and their fruit, called
acorns, ripen by the following autumn. The acorns are 2–2.5 cm
(0.79–0.98 in) long, pedunculate (having a peduncle or
acorn-stalk, 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 in) long) with one to four
acorns on each peduncle.
Q. robur is very tolerant to soil conditions and the continental
climate but it prefers fertile and well-watered soils. Mature trees
It is a long-lived tree, with a large wide spreading crown of rugged
branches. While it may naturally live to an age of a few centuries,
many of the oldest trees are pollarded or coppiced, both pruning
techniques that extend the tree's potential lifespan, if not its
health. Two individuals of notable longevity are the Stelmužė
Lithuania and the Granit
Oak in Bulgaria, which are believed to be
more than 1,500 years old, possibly making them the oldest oaks in
Europe; another specimen, called the 'Kongeegen' ('Kings Oak'),
estimated to be about 1,200 years old, grows in Jaegerspris,
Denmark. Yet another can be found in Kvilleken, Sweden, that is
over 1,000 years old and 14 metres (46 ft) around. Of maiden
(not pollarded) specimens, one of the oldest is the great oak of
Ivenack, Germany. Tree-ring research of this tree and other oaks
nearby gives an estimated age of 700 to 800 years. Also the Bowthorpe
Oak in Lincolnshire,
England is estimated to be 1,000 years old,
making it the oldest in the UK, although there is Knightwood
New Forest which is also said to be as old. Highest density of the
grand oak trees
Q. robur with a circumference 4 metres (13 ft)
and more is in Latvia.
bark and wood
Quercus robur - MHNT
The Gyula Juhász memorial tree in Makó
Q. robur 'Concordia'
Within its native range
Q. robur is valued for its importance to
insects and other wildlife. Numerous insects live on the leaves, buds,
and in the acorns.
Q. robur supports the highest biodiversity of
insect herbivores of any British plant (>400 spp). The acorns form
a valuable food resource for several small mammals and some birds,
notably Eurasian jays Garrulus glandarius. Jays were overwhelmingly
the primary propagators of oaks before humans began planting them
commercially, because of their habit of taking acorns from the umbra
of its parent tree and burying them undamaged elsewhere. Mammals,
notably squirrels who tend to hoard acorns and other nuts usually
leave them too abused to grow in the action of moving or storing them.
Quercus robur is planted for forestry, and produces a long-lasting and
durable heartwood, much in demand for interior and furniture work. The
Q. robur is identified by a close examination of a
cross-section perpendicular to fibres. The wood is characterised by
its distinct (often wide) dark and light brown growth rings. The
earlywood displays a vast number of large vessels (~0.5 mm
(0.020 in) diameter). There are rays of thin (~0.1 mm
(0.0039 in)) yellow or light brown lines running across the
growth rings. The timber is around 720 kg (1,590 lb) per
cubic meter in density.
A number of cultivars are grown in gardens and parks and in arboreta
and botanical gardens. The most common cultivar is Quercus robur
'Fastigiata', and is the exception among
Q. robur cultivars which are
generally smaller than the standard tree, growing to between 10–15 m
and exhibit unusual leaf or crown shape characteristics.
English oak is one of the most common park trees in south-eastern
Australia, noted for its vigorous, luxuriant growth. In Australia, it
grows very quickly to a tree of 20 m
(66 ft) tall by up to 20 m (66 ft) broad, with a
low-branching canopy. Its trunk and secondary branches are very thick
and solid and covered with deep-fissured blackish-grey bark. The
largest example in
Australia is in Donnybrook, Western Australia.
Quercus robur 'Fastigiata' ("cypress oak"), probably the most common
cultivated form, it grows to a large imposing tree with a narrow
columnar habit. The fastigiate oak was originally propagated from an
upright tree that was found in central Europe.
Quercus robur 'Concordia' ("golden oak"), a small very slow-growing
tree, eventually reaching 10 m (33 ft), with bright
golden-yellow leaves throughout spring and summer. It was originally
raised in Van Geert's nursery at
Ghent in 1843.
Quercus robur 'Pendula' ("weeping oak"), a small to medium-sized tree
with pendulous branches, reaching up to 15 m.
Quercus robur 'Purpurea' is another cultivar growing to 10 m
(33 ft), but with purple coloured leaves.
Quercus robur 'Filicifolia' ("cut-leaved oak") is a cultivar where the
leaf is pinnately divided into fine forward pointing segments.
Along with the naturally occurring Q. × rosacea, several hybrids with
other white oak species have also been produced in cultivation,
Oak Q. × turnerii, Heritage
Oak Q. × macdanielli,
and Two Worlds
Oak Q. × bimundorum, the latter two developed by
nurseries in the United States.
Q. × bimundorum (Q. alba × Q. robur) (two worlds oak)
Q. × macdanielli (Q. macrocarpa × Q. robur) (heritage oak)
Q. × rosacea Bechst. (Q. petraea x Q. robur), a hybrid of the sessile
oak and English oak. It is usually of intermediate character between
its parents, however it does occasionally exhibit more pronounced
characteristics of one or the other parent.
Q. × turnerii Willd. (Q. ilex × Q. robur) (Turner's oak), a
semi-evergreen tree of small to medium size with a rounded crown; it
was originally raised at Mr. Turner's nursery, Essex, UK, in 1783. An
early specimen is at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Q. × warei (
Q. robur fastigiata x Q. bicolor), a hybrid between
upright English oak and the swamp white oak. The selections within
this hybrid include 'Long' (Regal Prince) and 'Nadler' (Kindred
Acute oak decline
Powdery mildew caused by Erysiphe alphitoides
Sudden oak death
In the Basque Country (Spain and France) the oak symbolises the
traditional basque liberties. This is based on the 'tree of Gernika',
an ancient oak tree located in Gernika, below which since at least the
13th century the
Lords of Biscay
Lords of Biscay first, and afterwards their
Kings of Castile
Kings of Castile and the
Kings of Spain
Kings of Spain solemnly swore
to uphold the charter of Biscay, which secured widespread rights to
the inhabitants of Biscay. Since the 14th century, the Juntas
Generales (the parliament of Biscay) gathers in a building next to the
oak tree, and symbolically passes its laws under the tree as well.
Lehendakari (Basque prime minister) swears his oath of
office under the tree.
The national coat of arms of
Bulgaria includes two crossed oak
branches with fruits - as shield (escutcheon) compartment.
Oak leaves with acorns are depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 5
lipa coin, minted since 1993. The pedunculate oak of the Croatian
Slavonia (considered a separate subspecies - Slavonian oak)
is a regional symbol of
Slavonia and a national symbol of Croatia.
In England, the English oak has assumed the status of a national
emblem. This has its origins in the oak tree at Boscobel House, where
the future King Charles II hid from his Parliamentarian pursuers in
1650 during the English Civil War; the tree has since been known as
the Royal Oak. This event was celebrated nationally on 29 May as Oak
Apple Day, which is continued to this day in some communities.
‘The Royal Oak’ is the third most popular pub name in Britain (541
in 2007) and has been the name of eight major
Royal Navy warships.
The naval associations are strengthened by the fact that oak was the
main construction material for sailing warships. The
Royal Navy was
often described as ‘The Wooden Walls of Old England’ (a
paraphrase of the Delphic Oracle) and the Navy’s official quick
march is "Heart of Oak". In folklore, the Major
Oak is where Robin
Hood is purportedly to have taken shelter. Furthermore, the oak is
the most common woodland tree in England. An oak tree has been
depicted on the reverse of the pound coin (the 1987 and 1992 issues)
and a sprig of oak leaves and acorns is the emblem of the National
In Germany, the oak tree is used as a typical object and symbol in
romanticism. It can be found in several paintings of Caspar David
Friedrich and in "Of the life of a Good-For-Nothing" written by Joseph
Freiherr von Eichendorff as a symbol of the state protecting every
man. In those works the oak is shown in different situations, with
leaves and flowers or dead without any of its previous beauty. Those
conditions are mostly symbols for the conditions
Germany is in or
going through. Furthermore, the oak's stem is a symbol for Germany's
strength and stability.
Oak branches were displayed on the reverse of
the small coins of the old
Deutsche Mark currency (1 through 10
Pfennigs; the 50 Pfennigs coin showed a woman planting an oak
seedling), and are now also displayed on the reverse of the small
Euro currency coins (1 through 5 cents).
In Ireland, at Birr Castle, an example, over 400 years old has a girth
of 6.5 m. It is known as the Carroll Oak, referring to the local
Ely O'Carroll who ruled prior to Norman occupation.
Rugby Union side is known as The Oaks.
Grandinin/roburin E, castalagin/vescalagin, gallic acid, monogalloyl
glucose (glucogallin) and valoneic acid dilactone, monogalloyl
glucose, digalloyl glucose, trigalloyl glucose, rhamnose, quercitrin
and ellagic acid are phenolic compounds found in Q. robur. The
heartwood contains triterpene saponins.
Oak marble gall
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Quercus robur.
Wikispecies has information related to Quercus robur
Plant List: A Working List of All
^ Flora of North America,
Quercus robur Linnaeus, 1753. English oak,
pedunculate oak, chêne pédoncule
^ Flora of China,
Quercus robur Linnaeus, 1753. 夏栎 xia li
^ Ducousso, A. & Bordacs, S. (2004), Pedunculate and sessile oaks
- Quercus robur/Quercus petraea: Technical guidelines for genetic
conservation and use (PDF), European Forest Genetic Resources
Programme, p. 6
^ "Kong Frederik den Syvendes Stiftelse paa Jægerspris".
www.kongfrederik.dk. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
^ Moström, Jerker (May 2006). "The
Oak Tree, from Peasant Torment to
a Unifying Concept of Landscape Management" (PDF). The
History, Ecology Management and Planning. Linköping, Sweden: National
Heritage Board of Sweden.
^ Eniņš, Guntis (2008). 100 dižākie un svētākie, AS Lauku
Avīze, p. 25. ISBN 978-9984-827-15-5
^ White, John (1995). Forest and Woodland Trees in Britain. Oxford
University Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-19-854883-4.
^ British Oak. Niche Timbers. Accessed 19-08-2009.
^ "Quercus robur". Metrotrees.com.au. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
^ Nina Smith (2009-12-10). "Australia's Biggest
Donnybrookmail.com.au. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
^ "Kew: Plants: Turner's Oak, Quercus x turneri". Rbgkew.org.uk. 16
October 1987. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved
2 May 2012.
Plant of the Month". Buckeyegardening.com. Retrieved
Oak Society Link''". Oaknames.org. Retrieved
Forestry Commission. 2013. Retrieved 13 April
^ Croatian National Bank Archived 6 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine..
Kuna and Lipa, Coins of
Croatia Archived 22 June 2009 at the Wayback
Machine.: 5 Lipa Coin Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine..
– Retrieved on 31 March 2009.
^ "Croatian National Symbols". www.kwintessential.co.uk/. Retrieved
^ "Wiltshire - Moonraking -
Oak Apple Day". BBC. 1931-05-29. Retrieved
^ "Real Ale and Pub News Features Archive". Solihullcamra.org.uk. 15
November 2007. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 2
^ "National Maritime Museum". Nmm.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
^ "The Definitive List of British
Oak Trees & Their History
EHBP". English Heritage Buildings. 2018-02-16. Retrieved
^ Smith, Steve. "The National Inventory of Woodland and Trees -
England" (PDF). UK:
Forestry Commission. Table 1. p. 52.
^ Fifty Trees of Distinction by Prof. D.A. Webb and the Earl of Ross.
Booklet, published by
Birr Castle Demesne, 2000.
^ Analysis of oak tannins by liquid chromatography-electrospray
ionisation mass spectrometry. Pirjo Mämmelä, Heikki Savolainenb,
Lasse Lindroosa, Juhani Kangasd and Terttu Vartiainen, Journal of
Chromatography A, Volume 891, Issue 1, 1 September 2000, Pages 75-83,
^ Identification of triterpene saponins in
Quercus robur L. and Q.
Heartwood by LC-ESI/MS and NMR. Arramon G, Saucier C,
Colombani D and Glories Y, Phytochem Anal., November-DEcember 2002,
volume 13, issue 6, pages 305-310, PMID 12494747
Flora Europaea: Quercus robur
Bean, W. J. (1976). Trees and shrubs hardy in the British Isles 8th
ed., revised. John Murray.
Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins
(in French) Chênes: Quercus robur
Oaks from Bialowieza Forest in Poland (biggest oak cluster with the
monumental sizes in Europe) English [permanent dead link]
Monumental Trees, Photos and location details of large English oak
Latvia - the land of oaks
Den virtuella floran - Distribution
Quercus robur at the
Encyclopedia of Life
Encyclopedia of Life
Quercus robur - information, genetic conservation units and related
European Forest Genetic Resources Programme (EUFORGEN)
Plant List: kew-174750