Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur)



The Native British Oaks - English Oak (Quercus robur) and Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)

Two native oaks share the British countryside. The English oak (Quercus robur) prefers lowland meadows and woodlands **** English Oak stalkless leaves with stalked acorns ****

Sessile oak (Quercus petraea) is more at home in stony upland places. Mixed woods of the two species occur, intermediate forms are common, but true hybrids between them are unusual.******Sessile oak with stalked leaves and stalkless acorns *******

Distinguishing and Identifying Oaks Download

Aka Common Oak

Pedunculate Oak, Common Oak, English Oak. Irish Dair (Family - Fagaceae)


This large deciduous tree is likely to be our commonest tree. Height 30 - 40 m. Can be up to 1000 year or more.


Basic fertile soils ph 4.5 - 7.5 including heavy soils. Mature trees tolerate flooding even by sea-water. Usually found in mixed woodland.
Natural distributed throughout GB and Ireland and most of Western Europe and Asia Minor.


Flowers Leaves Fruit Ripen Fall
Mar/April April October

Similar species:

As per Q. Petraea

Uses past & present:

This Pale brown wood is strong. More susceptible to epicormic growth. Oak wood is golden brown with prominent paler flecks (medullary rays) maturing to deep brown when used inside, or light silvery grey out of doors. Freshly cut material has a distinctive pleasant smell.Uses of wood - See Q. Petraea. Wines and spirits matured in English Oak casks.Strong durable oak timber was traditionally used for houses, ships and furniture. Today the best wood is still used for quality cabinet making, veneers and barrel staves. Rougher material is used for fencing, roof beams and specialist building work. Besides timber, oak woods once provided a harvest of bark for the leather tanning industry, and in good acorn seasons (mast years)animals were grazed under the trees to fatten them up before winter.Still a practice in The New Forest.


Growth: & Propagation

See Quercus Petraea. Approx 110 - 450 seeds per kg.
Oak trees are easy to grow from seed. They transplant well but long roots sometimes need pruning. Traditionally oak trees were planted close together and allowed to compete for light. In due course virtually knot free stems with no side branches would dominate



The English Oak Quercus Robur is deep-rooted and most common on heavy wet soils. It is a lowland tree found in South West England as high as 400m (1320’) but in the highlands of Scotland they rarely occur above 200m (660’).

The mature English Oak tree supports a larger number of different life forms than any other British tree. This includes up to 284 species of insect. Up to 324 taxa (species, sub-species or ecologically distinct varieties) of lichens, growing on the bark of any one tree.

The vast array of insect life found in the Oak tree means that this tree of all British trees supplies the most food for birds such as Tits and Tree Creepers.

When acorns loosen in their cups, the oak tree provides a harvest for many wild creatures. In ancient times the wild boar, but now, jays, pigeons, pheasants, ducks, squirrels, mice, badgers, deer and pigs feast on acorns in the autumn.

The acorns dormancy is not deep; many begin to germinate by putting out a root very soon after falling, though a shoot is not produced until the spring. The seedlings develop a substantial tap root. They can survive the loss of some early shoots, however, they are less tolerant of shade if is it combined with other damaging influences such as caterpillar defoliation or attacks of the oak mildew fungus (Microspaera Alphitoides).

Under sheltered conditions and deep soil, oaks can grow into magnificent trees 40m (130ft) or more in height. The tallest trees are not, however, particularly old – probably no more than about 300 years, Most really ancient oaks, which are invariably hollow, are not so tall, they generally occur in places that were ancient wood pastures, where widely spaced trees were pollarded for centuries to provide timber and firewood.

The typical development of the tree includes a period of quite rapid growth for around 80-120 years, followed by a gradual slowing down. It progressed from a young, smooth, silvery brown barked sapling to a huge, rugged, hollow hulk, with rough, hard, deeply fissured bark. After about 250-350 years, decline sets in. Branches die back, and the diameter growth slows right down. A study of Wistman’s Wood high on Dartmoor showed that the Oak trees measured in 1621, are the same height today.

The oak comes into leaf very late, often not until mid May. Acorns are not produced until the tree is about 40 years old with seed production reaching a maximum between 80-120 years. Oaks tend to fruit very abundantly only in mast years, which occur every 4-7 years. In other years, fewer acorns are produced, and in some none at all.


Leaf and other details of Quercus robur courtesy of Project Runeburg
Oaks can develop into huge spreading trees reaching 40 metres high and producing stems up to 12.5m in girth. In Britain they can live for over 1,000 years.The deciduous lobed oblong leaves are familiar to most people. They are frequently represented in art, and feature on many logos and brand identities.

In summer a new flush of reddish-brown 'lammas' foliage appears replacing earlier leaves eaten by insects.

Acorns in cups are a well known feature of an oak tree. The Anglo-Saxon name for oak was aik, so the seed was known as aik-com. English oaks bear them on stalks, sessile acorns are stalkless. In a good year a mature tree may produce around 50,000 acorns.