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Biology

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The English oak flowers between May and June. Towards the end of summer the acorns begin to ripen, becoming fully ripe by October (2). 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 (4). 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 (5). This 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 (5). Indeed, Britain has more ancient oaks than any other country in western Europe (4). 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 (5). 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 (5). Oak Apple Day occurs on the 29th of May, and commemorates the return of Charles II to London after exile. During exile, he was hidden inside an oak tree, and he declared that the 29th of May should be set aside as a holiday for 'the dressing of trees'. It is not certain why the day is named after oak apples, the spongy galls caused by parasitic wasps (4).
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Conservation

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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 the English oak of important cultural significance, it is a beautiful, majestic species. Furthermore, the communities of plants, animals and fungi that are associated with oak trees are often unique, and internationally significant. Conserving this 'king of trees' is therefore of utmost importance.
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Description

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This oak, the 'king of trees' has a special place in the English psyche, and is a well-loved symbol of strength and duration (4). It is a magnificent tree, with a broad, irregular crown. The bark is grey and fissured, and develops burrs as it ages (5). The massive main branches often develop low on the trunk and become twisted and gnarled with age (2). The leaves have 5-7 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 (2). 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 measure up to 18mm across (6).
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Habitat

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The pedunculate oak is the dominant tree of deciduous woods in Britain, it occurs in coppice woodland, high forest and ancient wood pastureland, and has often been planted in hedgerows. It is able to grow in a range of soil types, but prefers those that are fertile and heavy (3).
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Range

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Widespread throughout Britain and much of the rest of Europe, with the exception of the far north and some areas of the Mediterranean (2).
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Status

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Widespread and common (3).
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Threats

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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 in the vicinity of a suitable age, so entire communities are at risk (7).
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Brief Summary

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English oak was originally planted because it could be used in so many ways. Not only is the wood very hardy, the bark was used for tanning and branches for firewood. Later on, it was planted to convert pine forests into deciduous woods. English oak grows well in many soils, as long as it has sufficient light. This species of oak can reach a very ripe old age. The oldest know English Oak in Europe grows in Lithuania and is 1500 years old!
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Comments

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The ‘English Oak’ is occasionally cultivated here at hill stations up to 2200 m. It grows well in areas of light snowfall. A variable tree as regards the size, shape and the degree of incision of the leaves. The tannin in the bark is used in leather industry. The wood is used for construction.
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Comments

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Quercus robur is one of the oaks most commonly cultivated in temperate and subtropical parts of the world. In North America it is most commonly seen in the eastern and northwestern parts of the United States and and in southeastern and southwestern Canada, where it tolerates a wide array of conditions and is extremely hardy. In Washington, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, apparently reproducing populations persist in the wild. Elsewhere, although actual naturalization appears to be rare, Q . robur should be expected to persist around old homesites and other places of cultivation.

Quercus robur most closely resembles our native species Q . alba in leaf form. In contrast with Q . alba , which has relatively long petioles (longer than 10 mm), acute leaf bases, and subsessile fruit (rarely on peduncles to 25 mm), Q . robur is easily distinguished by its shorter petioles (less than 10 mm), cordate, almost clasping, leaf bases, and fruit on long (more than 35 mm), thin peduncles.

Quercus robur is one of the oaks most widely celebrated in literature; it has wood of exceptionally high quality for the manufacture of furniture, and it previously was the most important wood used in the manufacture of wooden sailing vessels in Europe.

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Description

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A tree 25 m or more tall. Leaves auricled at the base, ovate, 3.5-11.5 cm long, sinuately lobed or pinnatifid or -partite; lobes obtuse, upper surface dark green, lower pale green; petiole 4-6 mm long. Male flowers in lax catkins, 4-5.7 cm long; perianth segments lanceolate, c. 1.8 mm long, tomentose; stamens 4-9, filaments 1.5 mm long. Female flowers on stout peduncles; styles c. 1 mm long; stigma subcapitate. Acorn 2-2.4 cm long, glabrescent, yellowish-brown, 1/3 to 1/2 enclosed by the cupule, hemispherical, 2-2.2 cm broad, pubescent; scales broadly ovate, acute.
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Description

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Trees , deciduous, to 30 m. Bark light gray, scaly. Twigs brown, 2-3 mm diam., glabrous. Buds dark brown, ovoid, distally obtuse, 2-3 mm, glabrous. Leaves: petiole 3-6 mm. Leaf blade obovate to narrowly elliptic or narrowly obovate (some cultivars oblanceolate), (50-)70-150(-200) × (20-)35-85(-100) mm, base strongly cordate, often minutely revolute or folded, margins moderately to deeply lobed, lobes rounded or retuse distally, sinuses extending 1/3-7/8 distance to midrib, secondary veins arched, divergent, (3-)5-7 on each side, apex broadly rounded; surfaces abaxially light green, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, glabrous at maturity, adaxially deep green to light green or gray, dull or glossy. Acorns 1-3, on very thin (1-2 mm diam.), flexuous peduncle (25-)35-65(-100) mm; cup hemispheric to deeply goblet-shaped, enclosing 1/4-1/2 nut or more, scales closely appressed, often in concentric rows, finely grayish tomentose; nut brown, ovoid, oblong, or cylindric, 15-30(-35) × 12-20 mm, glabrous. Cotyledons distinct. 2 n = 24.
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Description

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Trees 40-50 m tall, deciduous. Young branchlets pubescent, soon glabrescent; branchlets reddish brown, glabrous, lenticellate; lenticels brownish, rounded. Petiole 2-5 mm, glabrous; leaf blade obovate to narrowly so, 5-17 × 2-10 cm, abaxially greenish and hairy along veins but glabrescent, adaxially green, base narrowly rounded to auriculate, margin with 5-7 rounded or retuse lobes on each side, apex truncate to shortly acuminate; secondary veins 5-7(-10) on each side of midvein. Female inflorescences axillary on apical part of young shoot, 0.5-2 cm. Perianth usually 6-lobed. Cupule shallowly cupular, ca. 8 mm × 1.2-1.5 cm, enclosing ca. 1/3 of nut; bracts triangular, ca. 1.5 mm, flat or abaxially slightly protruding, sparsely pubescent. Nut ovoid to ovoid-ellipsoid, 1.5-1.8 × 1-1.3 cm, apex pubescent; scar ca. 5 mm in diam., slightly raised. Fl. May-Jun, fr. Sep-Oct.
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Flora of China Vol. 4: 375 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Distribution

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Distribution: Temperate and S. Europe, Turkey, N. Iran, Caucasus, occasionally cultivated in N. America.
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Distribution

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introduced from Europe; B.C., N.B., N.S., P.E.I.
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Flower/Fruit

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Fl. Per.: April-May; Fr.Per.: Aug.
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Flowering/Fruiting

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Flowering spring.
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Habitat

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Roadsides, pastures, forest margins and woodlands; 0-1000m.
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Habitat & Distribution

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Cultivated. Beijing Shi, Shandong, Xinjiang [native to Europe]
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Synonym

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Quercus pedunculata Ehrhart
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Quercus robur

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Quercus robur, commonly known as common oak, pedunculate oak, European oak or English oak, is a species of flowering plant in the beech and oak family, Fagaceae. It is native to most of Europe west of the Caucasus. The tree is widely cultivated in temperate regions and has escaped into the wild in scattered parts of China and North America.[3][4]

Taxonomy

"
Ancient pedunculate oaks at Wistman's Wood in Devon, England

Quercus robur (Latin quercus, "oak" + robur "strength, hard timber") is the type species of the genus (the species by which the oak genus Quercus is defined), and a member of the white oak section (Quercus section Quercus). The populations in Italy, southeast Europe, and Asia Minor and the Caucasus are sometimes treated as separate species, Q. brutia Tenore, Q. pedunculiflora K. Koch and Q. haas Kotschy respectively.

A close relative is the sessile oak (Q. petraea), which shares much of its range. Q. robur is distinguished from this species by its leaves having only a very short stalk (petiole) 3–8 mm (0.12–0.31 in) long, and by its pedunculate (stalked) acorns. The two often hybridise in the wild, the hybrid being known as Quercus × rosacea.

Quercus robur should not be confused with Q. rubra, the red oak, which is a native of North America and only distantly related.

Description

"
An old English oak in Baginton, England
"
Seedling sprouting from its acorn
"
An oak sprout in a glass container

Quercus robur is a large deciduous tree, with circumference of grand oaks from 4 m (13 ft) to exceptional 12 m (39 ft). The Majesty Oak with a circumference of 12.2 m (40 ft) is the thickest tree in Great Britain,[5] and the Kaive Oak in Latvia with a circumference of 10.2 m (33 ft) is the thickest tree in Northern Europe. Quercus robur has lobed and nearly sessile (very short-stalked) leaves 7–14 cm (2.8–5.5 in) long. Flowering takes place in mid spring, and the fruit, called acorns, ripen by mid autumn. The acorns are 2–2.5 cm (0.79–0.98 in) long, pedunculate (having a peduncle or acorn-stalk, 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 in) long) with one to four acorns on each peduncle.

Quercus robur is very tolerant to soil conditions and the continental climate but it prefers fertile and well-watered soils. Mature trees tolerate flooding.[6]

It is a long-lived tree, with a large wide spreading crown of rugged branches. While it may naturally live to an age of a few centuries, many of the oldest trees are pollarded or coppiced, both pruning techniques that extend the tree's potential lifespan, if not its health. Two individuals of notable longevity are the Stelmužė Oak in Lithuania and the Granit Oak in Bulgaria, which are believed to be more than 1500 years old, possibly making them the oldest oaks in Europe; another specimen, called the 'Kongeegen' ('Kings Oak'), estimated to be about 1200 years old, grows in Jaegerspris, Denmark.[7] Yet another can be found in Kvilleken, Sweden, that is over 1000 years old and 14 metres (46 ft) around.[8] Of maiden (not pollarded) specimens, one of the oldest is the great oak of Ivenack, Germany. Tree-ring research of this tree and other oaks nearby gives an estimated age of 700 to 800 years. Also the Bowthorpe Oak in Lincolnshire, England is estimated to be 1000 years old, making it the oldest in the UK, although there is Knightwood Oak in the New Forest that is also said to be as old. The highest density of Q. robur with a circumference of 4 metres (13 ft) and more is in Latvia.[9]

Ecological importance

"
bark and wood
"
Quercus robur - MHNT
"
The Gyula Juhász memorial tree in Makó
"
Q. robur 'Concordia'

Within its native range Q. robur is valued for its importance to insects and other wildlife. Numerous insects live on the leaves, buds, and in the acorns. Q. robur supports the highest biodiversity of insect herbivores of any British plant (>400 spp). The acorns form a valuable food resource for several small mammals and some birds, notably Eurasian jays Garrulus glandarius. Jays were overwhelmingly the primary propagators[10] of oaks before humans began planting them commercially (and still remain the principal propagators for wild oaks), because of their habit of taking acorns from the umbra of its parent tree and burying them undamaged elsewhere. Mammals, notably squirrels who tend to hoard acorns and other nuts usually leave them too abused to grow in the action of moving or storing them.

Commercial forestry

Quercus robur is planted for forestry, and produces a long-lasting and durable heartwood, much in demand for interior and furniture work. The wood of Q. robur is identified by a close examination of a cross-section perpendicular to fibres. The wood is characterised by its distinct (often wide) dark and light brown growth rings. The earlywood displays a vast number of large vessels (~0.5 mm (0.020 in) diameter). There are rays of thin (~0.1 mm (0.0039 in)) yellow or light brown lines running across the growth rings. The timber is around 720 kg (1,590 lb) per cubic meter in density.[11]

Cultivation

A number of cultivars are grown in gardens and parks and in arboreta and botanical gardens. The most common cultivar is Quercus robur 'Fastigiata', and is the exception among Q. robur cultivars that are generally smaller than the standard tree, growing to between 10–15 m and exhibit unusual leaf or crown shape characteristics.

In Australia

English oak is one of the most common park trees in south-eastern Australia, noted for its vigorous, luxuriant growth. In Australia, it grows very quickly to a tree of 20 m (66 ft) tall by up to 20 m (66 ft) broad, with a low-branching canopy. Its trunk and secondary branches are very thick and solid and covered with deep-fissured blackish-grey bark.[12] The largest example in Australia is in Donnybrook, Western Australia.[13]

Cultivars

  • Quercus robur 'Fastigiata' ("cypress oak"), probably the most common cultivated form, it grows to a large imposing tree with a narrow columnar habit. The fastigiate oak was originally propagated from an upright tree that was found in central Europe.
  • Quercus robur 'Concordia' ("golden oak"), a small very slow-growing tree, eventually reaching 10 m (33 ft), with bright golden-yellow leaves throughout spring and summer. It was originally raised in Van Geert's nursery at Ghent in 1843.
  • Quercus robur 'Pendula' ("weeping oak"), a small to medium-sized tree with pendulous branches, reaching up to 15 m.
  • Quercus robur 'Purpurea' is another cultivar growing to 10 m (33 ft), but with purple coloured leaves.
  • Quercus robur 'Filicifolia' ("cut-leaved oak") is a cultivar where the leaf is pinnately divided into fine forward pointing segments.

Hybrids

Along with the naturally occurring Q. × rosacea, several hybrids with other white oak species have also been produced in cultivation, including Turner's Oak Q. × turnerii, Heritage Oak Q. × macdanielli, and Two Worlds Oak Q. × bimundorum, the latter two developed by nurseries in the United States.

  • Q. × bimundorum (Q. alba × Q. robur) (two worlds oak)
  • Q. × macdanielli (Q. macrocarpa × Q. robur) (heritage oak)
  • Q. × rosacea Bechst. (Q. petraea x Q. robur), a hybrid of the sessile oak and English oak. It is usually of intermediate character between its parents, however it does occasionally exhibit more pronounced characteristics of one or the other parent.
  • Q. × turnerii Willd. (Q. ilex × Q. robur) (Turner's oak), a semi-evergreen tree of small to medium size with a rounded crown; it was originally raised at the Holloway Down Nursery of Spencer Turner, Leyton, Essex, UK, noted by the zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck at Trianon, Versailles in 1783, as the chêne de turnère.[14] (Turner had died in January 1776, and the nursery grounds, on extended lease, returned to the landowner.)[15] An early specimen was planted at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1798; it was uprooted in the Great Storm of 1987 but resettled in the ground and then increased its healthy growth.[16]
  • Q. × warei (Q. robur fastigiata x Q. bicolor), a hybrid between upright English oak and the swamp white oak. The selections within this hybrid include 'Long' (Regal Prince)[17] and 'Nadler' (Kindred Spirit).[18]

Diseases

Symbolism

Basque Country

In the Basque Country (Spain and France) the oak symbolises the traditional basque liberties. This is based on the 'tree of Gernika', an ancient oak tree located in Gernika, below which since at least the 13th century the Lords of Biscay first, and afterwards their successors the Kings of Castile and the Kings of Spain solemnly swore to uphold the charter of Biscay, which secured widespread rights to the inhabitants of Biscay. Since the 14th century, the Juntas Generales (the parliament of Biscay) gathers in a building next to the oak tree, and symbolically passes its laws under the tree as well. Nowadays, the Lehendakari (Basque prime minister) swears his oath of office under the tree.

Bulgaria

The national coat of arms of Bulgaria includes two crossed oak branches with fruits - as shield (escutcheon) compartment.

Croatia

Oak leaves with acorns are depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 5 lipa coin, minted since 1993.[20] The pedunculate oak of the Croatian region of Slavonia (considered a separate subspecies - Slavonian oak) is a regional symbol of Slavonia and a national symbol of Croatia.[21]

France

The oak tree has had a symbolic value since Ancient times. Some oaks were considered sacred trees by the Gauls. The druids would cut down the mistletoe growing on them. Even after Christianization, oak trees were considered to protect as lightning would fall on them rather than on nearby inhabitation. Such struck trees would often be turned into places of worship, like the Chêne chapelle. King Saint Louis has been represented rendering justice under an oak tree. During the French Revolution, oaks were often planted as trees of Freedom (fr). One of such trees, an oak planted during the 1848 Revolution, survived the destruction of Oradour-sur-Glane by the Nazis. The branch of oak is part of the National emblem of France. After the announcement of General Charles de Gaulle's death, caricaturist Jacques Faizant represented him as a fallen oak.

Germany

In Germany, the oak tree is used as a typical object and symbol in romanticism. It can be found in several paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and in "Of the life of a Good-For-Nothing" written by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff as a symbol of the state protecting every man. In those works the oak is shown in different situations, with leaves and flowers or dead without any of its previous beauty. Those conditions are mostly symbols for the conditions Germany is in or going through. Furthermore, the oak's stem is a symbol for Germany's strength and stability. Oak branches were displayed on the reverse of coins of the old Deutsche Mark currency (1 through 10 Pfennigs; the 50 Pfennigs coin showed a woman planting an oak seedling), and are now also displayed on the reverse of German-issue Euro currency coins (1 through 5 cents).

Ireland

In Ireland, at Birr Castle, an example, over 400 years old has a girth of 6.5 m. It is known as the Carroll Oak, referring to the local Chieftains, Ely O'Carroll who ruled prior to Norman occupation.[22]

Latvia

In Latvia oak is the national symbol. Many Latvian folk songs are about oak tree. Base of the coat of arms is decorated with the branches of an oak tree.

Romania

The Romanian Rugby Union side is known as The Oaks.

United Kingdom

In England, the English oak has assumed the status of a national emblem. This has its origins in the oak tree at Boscobel House, where the future King Charles II hid from his Parliamentarian pursuers in 1650 during the English Civil War; the tree has since been known as the Royal Oak. This event was celebrated nationally on 29 May as Oak Apple Day, which is continued to this day in some communities.[23] 'The Royal Oak' is the third most popular pub name in Britain (541 in 2007)[24] and has been the name of eight major Royal Navy warships. The naval associations are strengthened by the fact that oak was the main construction material for sailing warships. The Royal Navy was often described as 'The Wooden Walls of Old England'[25] (a paraphrase of the Delphic Oracle) and the Navy’s official quick march is "Heart of Oak". In folklore, the Major Oak is where Robin Hood is purportedly to have taken shelter.[26] Furthermore, the oak is the most common woodland tree in England.[27] An oak tree has been depicted on the reverse of the pound coin (the 1987 and 1992 issues) and a sprig of oak leaves and acorns is the emblem of the National Trust.

Chemistry

Grandinin/roburin E, castalagin/vescalagin, gallic acid, monogalloyl glucose (glucogallin) and valoneic acid dilactone, monogalloyl glucose, digalloyl glucose, trigalloyl glucose, rhamnose, quercitrin and ellagic acid are phenolic compounds found in Q. robur.[28] The heartwood contains triterpene saponins.[29]

Genetics

The genome of Q. robur has been completely sequenced (GenOak project); a first version was published in 2016. It comprises 12 chromosomes pairs, about 26,000 genes and 750 million bp[30]. This is roughly a quarter of the size of the human genome, which has about 3 billion base pairs.

See also

References

  1. ^ Barstow, M.; Khela, S. (2017). "Quercus robur". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2017: e.T63532A3126467. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T63532A3126467.en. Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  3. ^ Nixon, Kevin C. (1997). "Quercus robur". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). 3. New York and Oxford – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  4. ^ Huang, Chengjiu; Zhang, Yongtian; Bartholomew, Bruce. "Quercus robur". Flora of China. 4 – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  5. ^ "Britain's record-breaking trees", The Daily Telegraph
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Quercus robur: Brief Summary

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Quercus robur, commonly known as common oak, pedunculate oak, European oak or English oak, is a species of flowering plant in the beech and oak family, Fagaceae. It is native to most of Europe west of the Caucasus. The tree is widely cultivated in temperate regions and has escaped into the wild in scattered parts of China and North America.

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