Species Name: Quercus robur
Known as English oak, pedunculate or common oak, it can grow up anywhere from 20 - 40 meters tall, and it is believed that an oak can live for up to 900 - 1000 years. It is said that an oak takes 300 years to grow, 300 years to live and 300 years to die.
The English oak tree has dark brown, fissured bark with the branches of mature trees being quite undulating and ‘windy’.
The leaves are dark green and have multiple rounded lobes.
The most common feature of oaks are the fruits, or acorns, which start off green at the end of summer and become light brown/tan in autumn.
English oak trees are widespread throughout the British Isles. They can be found throughout the Forest.
Ancient people of Britain used to believe the oak tree was a ‘door’ to ancient wisdom or knowledge, and even entry to the otherworld, the realm of the fairy. Interestingly the Celtic name for the oak tree is ‘daur’, which is where it is believed, we get the word ‘door’ from.
The galls formed on oak trees were used to make black ink over many centuries. Crushing up the galls, adding iron sulphate and water, and leaving it to soak gave a dark brown/black solution. When filtered, it produced a black liquid which was used for writing ink.
The English oak supports the life cycle of approximately 400 different species throughout its time, including birds, mammals and insects, which can get food and shelter from the oak. The rare purple emperor butterfly resides in the gap between crowns of two adjacent oak trees.
The jay bird feeds on acorns and collects them to store and consume later. Inevitably the jay drops or misplaces its acorns, which is one of the ways oaks can spread across the land. The Latin name for the jay is 𝘎𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘶𝘴 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘶𝘴, which roughly means the “chattering acorn gatherer”.