Also known as the pedunculate oak, Quercus robur is a tall, deciduous, very long-lived tree (1,000 years) with a broad, rounded crown. The leathery, rather shallowly lobed leaves are deep green, turning reddish-khaki in autumn; the very short leaf-stalk distinguishes it from sessile oak, as do the acorns on stalks, and its preference for deep, clayey, lowland soils. Inconspicuous greenish-yellow male catkins and tiny female flowers appear with the young leaves, and are followed by acorns, whose knobbly cups have noticeable stalks. English oak is a wonderful tree for wildlife; the leaves are larval food for many insects, providing food for birds, and the acorns are winter food for jays, badgers and squirrels – and, long ago, pigs and wild boar. The dead leaves rot down quickly, supporting insects and many fungi. Sometimes, if water is short, this oak becomes ‘stag-headed’, withdrawing water and nourishment from its upper growth so that the rest of the tree thrives. English or pedunculate oak holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Good in parks or very large gardens.
Site: Tolerates exposure; prefers lowland sites
Soil: Any deep, moist, fertile, well-drained soil, including heavy clay
Position: Full sun or partial shade
Season of interest: Spring to autumn
Hardiness: Very hardy
Height: 82’ (25m) Spread: 82’ (25m) in 50 years