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Quercus = oak (Latin), from the Celtic word "quer", meaning "fine", and "cuea", or "tree".
robur = 'oaken', 'hard timber', 'strength', also from 'ruber' = red (red wood; robigo = 'rust'). The word 'robust' also comes from the word robur.
English: English oak, pedunculate oak, truffle oak, common oak
French: Chêne pédonculé
Deutsch: Stiel-Eiche, Sommer-Eiche
Spirit distilled from Tincture of Acorns
Kingdom: Plantae - Phylum: Anthophyta - Class: Magnoliopsida - Order: Fagales-Family: Fagaceae (Beech Family) - Genus: Quercus - Species: Quercus robur
proving of A.Geo Savulescu, 1996,
Description of the substance
"If keen blow the wind,
and if fast the rain fall,
The storm and the tempest
We heed not at all;
Though fifty stout fellows,
Bold yeoman are we,
There is plenty of room
In this hollow oak-tree."
There are more than 500 species of Oaks, genus Quercus. The Oaks are varied in their appearance; it is hard to believe that some kinds can be classified with the same species. They do, however, have one characteristic in common, which is the fact that their seeds are carried in little caps. Acorns vary considerably with the different kinds of Oak trees. Some have stalked or stalkless caps; in some, the caps only enclose the base of the acorn, while in some, only the tip peaks out. Some caps are rough because they're made of irregular scales; others are smooth because their scales are even and smooth. Some acorns mature six months after the flowers appear and some take as long as 18 months to ripen. Male and female flowers appear on the same tree. The male flowers are borne in noticeable thin, catkins and the inconspicuous female flowers are produced two or more, or sometimes singly on a short stalk.
This Oak, the 'king of trees' has a special place in the European psyche, and is a well-loved symbol of strength and duration. Throughout the British Isles many ancient Oaks have their own names. It is a magnificent tree, with a broad, irregular crown and a short sturdy trunk. The bark is grey and fissured, and develops burrs as it ages. The massive main branches often develop low on the trunk and become twisted and gnarled with age. It can grow to 140 ft (42.7 m) tall with a rounded spread of 80 ft (24.4 m) or more, but is usually smaller in cultivation. It has a strong and deep roots giving it stability during storms. The most famous perhaps is the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, once associated with Robin Hood. Still standing today though it requires support to prevent its collapse, it measures 64 feet (20 meters) around its girth.
The Common Oak is native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. It was a major component of the original forest (in England). It is widely planted in Europe as a landscape specimen and shade tree. It was brought to the American Colonies from England in the 17th century. It is widely planted in Canada and the northern U.S. and has escaped and reproduced on its own in a few areas.
The small leaves, (7.6-12.7 cm) long, have 3-7 pairs of lobes, forming a typical 'wavy-edged' outline; the upper surface is dark green, the underside is paler, and young leaves are often covered in a layer of fine downy hairs. They remain deep green long into autumn before turning brown and then persisting on the tree well into winter.
The typical Oak flowers are hanging catkins, which appear with the emerging leaves in early spring. The fruits, known as acorns, occur in clusters on long stalks known as peduncles (hence the common name of this species); the egg-shaped acorns sit in scaly cups that covers 1/3 of the nut.
The Oak flowers between May and June. Towards the end of summer the fruits called 'acorns' begin to ripen, becoming fully ripe by October. The acorn ripens in the autumn changing colour from green to pale yellow to dark olive brown. Once ripe the oak drops its fruit providing food in abundance for many of the forests animals. The acorns are rich in starch and tannins, and are eaten by small mammals and a number of birds. Jays and squirrels are extremely important in dispersing acorns away from the parent trees; they bury them for later consumption, and many of these acorns germinate. Left uneaten, the acorn will sprout tiny shoots and root in any fertile earth, thus producing a new sapling tree and the cycle of life and growth begins again. Acorns were once widely used to feed pigs; they were also ground down to make a substitute for coffee and even a type of bread.
Young Oak trees are vulnerable to insect predation. They grow very quickly, but after reaching 100-200 years of age their rate of growth slows down. After this time, however they continue to increase in girth. This type of Oak is a very long-lived species; specimens typically live for up to 500 years, but some oaks are known to be 700 to 1200 years old.
The Oak is tolerant of acidic to alkaline soils. It can bear the full sun and it does well with regular watering; it cannot tolerate extended droughts. Powdery mildew, a fungus that grows on the leaves, can be a problem in humid climates.
The wood has been a valuable commodity for centuries. The hammers and long boats of the Vikings were made out of Oak wood, and hafts for daggers and knives were made from its roots. During Britain's reign on the High Seas, many a sailing ship was made from the fine hard wood of the Common Oak. Also houses, floors, railway tracks and many more things were made out of Oak wood. The English phrase "hearts of oak" is because the Englishman literally made his home from Oak. Huge oaken beams were used in their construction and many of its rooms were panelled in fancy Oak carvings, the buildings were secured by solid Oak doors to keep out intruders and unwanted visitors. Also good alcoholic drinks are riped in barrels made out of Oaks. It has also been used to tan leather.
After the Oak has passed its first century, it increases by less than an inch a year. This slowness of its growth matures the wood in such a fashion that it becomes practically indestructible. As a timber the most valued qualities of the Oak are its hardness and toughness. While the Ebony tree may be harder, the Yew and Ash tree tougher, none of these trees possess both these qualities to such a degree as the Common Oak.
As well as its strength for building purposes, the Oak is much prized for the beauty of its grain and texture, and the richness of its colouring after polishing. As such it has always been a favourite wood of carpenters and cabinetmakers for use in panelling, doors and furniture. Beautiful cupboards, chests, tables and chairs were made of Oak, and due to the woods durability many of these have survived down through the centuries. Initially pale brown in colour, Oak wood darkens with age.
Upland Oak woodlands in Britain (and also in Europe I guess) have declined by 30-40% over the last 60 years as a result of re-planting with conifers, conversion to grazing land, overgrazing by sheep and deer, and unsuitable management. The decline in the ancient technique of coppicing (traditional form of woodland management in which trees are cut close to the base of the trunk. Re-growth occurs in the form of many thin poles.) has resulted in Oak woodlands becoming more shaded; acorns do not germinate as well in these conditions. Many oak forests have a skewed age structure, as young trees are not able to regenerate. This may cause problems for many of the rare species that are dependent on ancient Oaks; as the old trees die there will not be trees in the vicinity of a suitable age, so entire communities are at risk.