Quercus petraea (Fagaceae)

"As long as the Lion holds his fabled place as the king of beasts, and the eagle as king of birds, the sovereignty of British Trees must remain to the Oak. In truth he is a kingly tree, the emlem of majesty, strength and durability." So wrote The Reverend C.A. Johns at the end of the nineteenth century.

There are two native British oaks The pedunculate Oak ( Quercus ) and the Sessile or Durmast oak ( Quercus petraea). Our at Quoditch are Sessile Oaks ( How to tell the difference)

At one time, because of its strength oak was used to build ships ("Hearts of Oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men"). Most of the oak for the ships came from the Forest of Dean in West Gloucestershire.
But it was in great demand also in the middle ages for furniture, houses, ships and bridges.

Name origins Derives its name from Old Enlish "ac",old norse "eik", German " eiche"

latin "quercus" an oak.






Uses Tannin , feeding pigs, erzatz coffee, used in some countries as food by the early greks being able to be stored away in Winter.



Mythology and tradition . The greeks believed that the Oak was the first tree. The many mentions of the Oak in th eBible probaly refer to the Evergreen oak ( Quercus Ilex).

Baal, the god of the Canaanites is considered to be identical to the Roman Saturn, the Celtic Yiaoul and the British Yule. The Druids celebrated Yule-tide under the form of an Oak . They professed to maintain perpetual fire and every year the fires belonging to the people were extinguished and relighted from the sacred fire of the Druids. Hence the Yule-log. Until recently, it was a Devon tradition to light a fresh log on the fire but to take it off before it was consumed and reserve it to kindle the Christmas fire next year.( Johns)( Sometimes an Ash-log was used - hence the Devon tradition of the Ashen faggot (See wassailing))

Oak trees can live for many years and are often connected with major events. It is said that King Charles hid in the boughs of an oak tree when he was pursued by the Roundheads. ( in Shropshire)

At Tamerton Foliot, near Plymouth, an old tree in the centre of the village is known as the Coplestone Oak. It is said that, at this spot,the Lord of the Manor, Christopher Coplestone, lost his temper with his godson and stabbed him to death.

Ther is an old Druidic belief that oaks are sacred and possess special powers. It was said that if you carried an acorn in your pocket all the time you would remain looking youthful.

Sometimes the leaves develop growths,known as "galls" or "oak apples". These are a reaction to a gallwasp ( of the Cynipidae family) laying its eggs in the leaf. At one time gallic acid was extracted from these galls and was used in the manufacture of ink.

The seeds of the oak are named acorns
















There is a well-known folk song dedicated to the Oak.

One version was written in America in 1837 byHenry Fothergill Chorley.

But this English version was collected by the well known colector Alfred Williams from Thomas Larkin of Shrivenham, Berks

Here's a song to the Oak, the brave old Oak,
That hath ruled in the greenwood long,
Here's health and renown to his broad green crown,
And his fifty arms so strong!
There's fear in his frown when the sun goes down
and the fire in the West fades out,
And he showeth his might on a wild midnight,
When the storms though the branches shout.

Then here's to the Oak, the brave old oak,
That stands in his pride alone;
And still flourish he, a hale green tree,
When a hundred years are gone.

In the days of old, when the spring with gold
Was lighting his branches grey,
Through the grass at his feet tripped maidens sweet
To gather the dews of May;
And all that day, to the rebeck gay,
They frolicked with lovesome swains;
They're gone, they're dead,in the churchyard laid,
But the tree it still remains.

He saw the rare times, when the Christmas chimes
Were a merry, merry sound to hear,
And the squire's wide hall and the cottage small,
Were filled with good English cheer;
Now gold hath its sway, we all obey,
And a ruthless king is he,
But he never shall send our ancient friend,
To be tossed on the stormy sea.





How to tell the difference between pedunculate and sessile oaks
Acorns are on stalks Acorns sit close to the branch


Other types found in the UK

Other Oak have been imported into the UK. One that can be found not too far away is the Holm or Evergreen Oak (Quercus Ilex). It was introduced from the Mediterranean in the sixteenth century. We found this one growing at Slapton Sands in South Devon in the temperate climate right at the bottom of the cliffs. It is often planted to give year-round shelter, particularly near the sea-side because of its resistance to salt-laden air. ( Hart and Raymond, 1973)