Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The seedlings of sessile oak are more tolerant of shade than those of pedunculate oak, which enables the species to regenerate in woodlands (5). This deciduous tree is long-lived, typically reaching 1000 years of age (6). 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. A good crop of acorns was used to predict a good harvest, and a heavy fall of acorns was thought to signal an impending harsh winter (2). Sessile oaks do not yield as many acorns as pedunculate oaks, and the timber was less highly valued. Coppicing of these oaks was common in the north and west of Britain; this practice produces many thin poles of wood. The wood was burned in the iron-smelting industry and the bark was used in the leather tanning industry as a source of tannin (4).  Oak trees support a staggering variety of wildlife, and are habitats in their own right. The open canopy of sessile oak lets light through to the ground, which favours the growth of a diverse ground flora (7).
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Description

Oak trees have a special place in the English psyche, and are well-loved symbols of strength (4). The crown of this magnificent native tree is domed, with branches that radiate outwards and are straighter than those of Britain's other native oak, pedunculate or English oak (Quercus robur). Another distinction between these two oaks is that the crown of sessile oak appears more open when in leaf, as the leaves are evenly spread rather than in clusters as they are in pedunculate oak (3). The bark is greyish in colour and has mainly vertical fine fissures and ridges (3). The dark green leaves are smooth on the upper surface but pale green and hairy below. They usually have five lobes on each side, which gives a typical 'wavy-edged' outline (2). The sessile oak is so called because the acorns are not supported on stalks ('peduncles') as they are in the pedunculate oak (4).
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Distribution

Range in Scotland

Due to extensive historic deforestation, the abundance of Quercus petraea has been greatly reduced in Scotland from the Middle Ages forward. In present times the species can be found throughout Scotland, but chiefly present in relict forest stands within steeply sloping, remote or riparian zones. In particular the species can be found in such locations as the Grampian Mountains, River Dee watershed and throughout the Sea of the Hebrides terrestrial basin. Notable occurrences include an ancient pygmy forest at the north of the Ross of Mull on the Isle of Mull.

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Range

The sessile oak tends to be found mainly in west and northern Britain (3). It was not favoured by foresters in the 18th and 19th century; its distribution today therefore tends to represent a relict of its original 'wildwood' range (5). It is found in most of western Europe and Asia Minor (6).
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Ecology

Habitat

Occurs mainly in semi-natural forests (4) on shallow, well-draining and acidic soils (5). This tree is the dominant species in upland oak woodlands (5). In scrub, plantations and hedgerows it is typically replaced by the pedunculate oak (4).
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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Erysiphe alphitoides parasitises Quercus petraea x robur (Q. x rosacea)

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Foodplant / gall
sexual larva of Andricus fecundator causes gall of live catkin (male) of Quercus petraea
Other: minor host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Boletus armeniacus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Quercus petraea
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Calycellina punctata is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Quercus petraea
Remarks: season: 7-10

Plant / associate
resupinate, gelatinous fruitbody of Corticium quercicola is associated with wood of Quercus petraea
Remarks: season: 2-5

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous uredium of Cronartium quercuum parasitises live leaf (sucker shoot) of Quercus petraea

Foodplant / parasite
Erysiphe alphitoides parasitises Quercus petraea

Foodplant / saprobe
transversely elongate or oblong, immersed, then erumpent, imperfectly multiloculate stroma of Fusicoccum coelomycetous anamorph of Fusicoccum quercinum is saprobic on bark of Quercus petraea
Remarks: season: 4-5

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Inonotus dryadeus is saprobic on live trunk (base) of old, large tree of Quercus petraea
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
fruitbody of Marasmius quercophilus is saprobic on dead, fallen, decayed leaf of Quercus petraea
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
amphigenous thyriothecium of Microthyrium ilicinum is saprobic on dead, fallen, rotting, greyed leaf of Quercus petraea
Remarks: season: 4-10

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Periclista albida grazes on leaf of Quercus petraea

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Periclista lineolata grazes on leaf of Quercus petraea

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Periclista pubescens grazes on leaf of Quercus petraea

Foodplant / miner
larva of Profenusa pygmaea mines leaf (upper superficial layer) of Quercus petraea

Foodplant / spinner
caterpillar of Tortrix viridana spins live, spun-together leaf of Quercus petraea
Remarks: season: 4-7
Other: minor host/prey

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Quercus petraea

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Quercus petraea

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Not threatened (3).
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Threats

Upland oak woodlands 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 (8). The decline in the ancient technique of coppicing 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 (4). 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 of a suitable age in the vicinity, so entire communities are at risk (9).
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Management

Conservation

Upland oak woodland is a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). An action plan has been produced to guide the conservation of this habitat (8). Not only is this oak a beautiful, majestic species, it also supports communities of plants, animals and fungi that are unique, rare and internationally significant. Conserving this 'king of trees' is therefore of utmost importance.
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Wikipedia

Quercus petraea

Shoot with leaves and acorn
An inosculated tree

Quercus petraea (syn. Quercus sessiliflora),[1] the sessile oak, also known as the Cornish oak or Durmast oak, is a species of oak tree native to most of Europe, into Anatolia and Iran.

Sessile oak has been designated the national tree of Wales, where it is also called Welsh oak.[2] It is also considered the Cornish national tree and is referred to as the Cornish oak.[3][4]

Description[edit]

The sessile oak is a large deciduous tree up to 20–40 m (66–131 ft) tall, in the white oak section of the genus (Quercus sect. Quercus) and similar to the Pedunculate oak, Q. robur, with which it overlaps extensively in range. The leaves are 7–14 cm (2.8–5.5 in) long and 4–8 cm broad, evenly lobed with five to six lobes on each side, and a 1 cm petiole. The flowers are catkins, produced in the spring. The fruit is an acorn 2–3 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, which matures in about six months.

Comparison with pedunculate oak (Quercus robur)[edit]

Significant botanical differences from pedunculate oak include the stalked leaves, and the stalkless (sessile) acorns from which one of its common names is derived. It occurs in upland areas over 300 m (984 ft) with higher rainfall and shallow, acidic, sandy soils. Its specific epithet petraea means "of rocky places".[5] Quercus robur, on the other hand, prefers deeper, richer soils at lower altitude. Fertile hybrids with Quercus robur named Quercus × rosacea are found wherever the two parent species occur and share or are intermediate in characters between the parents.

Uses[edit]

In cultivation, this tree has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[6] The wood is important, used for construction purposes (particularly timber framing), shipbuilding, and oak barrels for wine.

Pontfadog Oak[edit]

What was considered to be the oldest tree in the UK was a sessile oak, the Pontfadog Oak. This grew near Chirk in North Wales. It was understood to be over 1,200 years old, an age that was due to regular pollarding for much of its life. The hollow trunk had a girth of 42 feet 5 inches (12.9 m). It was lost in April 2013 when it blew down in high winds.[7]

Diseases and Pests[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Quercus sessiliflora Salisb.". USDA GRIN Taxonomy for Plants. 
  2. ^ "Tree trail with worldwide flavour", BBC News, 23 July 2004
  3. ^ James Minahan, The complete guide to national symbols and emblems , Volume 1, 2009
  4. ^ http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/native-trees-thrive-future/story-13244009-detail/story.html
  5. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315. 
  6. ^ http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=6127
  7. ^ "Pontfadog Oak: 1,200-year-old tree toppled by winds". BBC News Online. 18 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Bullock, J.A. 1992. Host Plants of British Beetles: A List of Recorded Associations - Amateur Entomologists' Society (AES) publication volume 11a: A supplement to A Coleopterist's Handbook.

References[edit]

See also[edit]

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