English Oak
Quercus robur

Mature English Oak (1)



Quercus robur, otherwise known as the English Oak, is found mainly in Europe.  The tree can grow to be about 140 feet tall by 80 feet wide if it is growing in the wild. When in captivity, the tree tends to be a little smaller (1).  The leaves begin to grow in April or May and will remain on the tree to late October or November (5).  The leaves are small when compared to other oak leaves and measure approximately 3 to 5 inches long and have approximate 6 to 7 shallow lobes.  They can be distinguished from other oak trees by their short petiole and small, rounded lobes (1).  The fruit is an acorn that is an inch long with a shallow cap. The acorn develops from the flower-like structures that resemble catkins, which develop at about the same time as the leaves in early spring. If the tree remains undisturbed, it can live for approximately 1000 years or more (5).  

Location on Campus

Our specimen is located on the left side of the entrance that leads to the mother house and parking lot R.  It is on the main roadway right before the circle in front of the B. Thomas Golisano Academic Center.  The tree is small and stands approximately 10 feet tall.  It is approximately 15 feet from the main roadway. This tree was brought to Nazareth all the way from Sherwood Forest in England!  

Native Habitat and Current Range

Fruit of the English Oak(6

The English Oak is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. It was brought to the United States in the 1700’s by English colonists. Today it is only found in abundance in the northeastern part of the United States.  English Oaks grow in the wild throughout Europe and are the main species of oak found in some of the oldest forests that are still standing, including Sherwood Forest, where our specimen is from (1).  The English oak is most commonly found in bogs and woodlands (5).


Optimal Growing Conditions

Current range of the English Oak (2

Optimal growing conditions for the English Oak include an area with full sun, well-drained clay, sand, or loam that ranges from slightly acidic to neutral.  The species has a high tolerance to drought (2).  It is also tolerant of strong inland winds (5).

Economic Importance

Catkins of the English Oak (7

The English Oak has many important uses. The tree provides a strong hardwood that was used in ship making during Britain’s reign of the seas (1).  The wood is still used today for carpentry and hardwood flooring.  Other uses of the English Oak include basketry, charcoal, compost starter, and fuel (5).

Ethnobotanical and Cultural Information

Bark of the English Oak (7) 

The seeds can be ground to produce a coffee as well as cooked and eaten as an almond substitute, or ground and used as a thickener for cooking.  The bark produces a gum that is edible and chewed or used as a butter substitute (3). 

It is used medicinally as an antiseptic, astringent, decongestant, hemostatic, and tonic. It is a treatment for diarrhea, fever, bathe wounds, and a throat wash.  The parts of the tree most often used are the branches, bark, and galls that develop on the leaves (4).

Fascinating Facts

Leaves of the English Oak (6
  • The English Oak is also referred to as the Sherwood forest tree and legend has it Robin Hood used to hide in the hollowed trunk of an English Oak that is still standing today in the Sherwood forest (5).
  • The trunk of the tree is used as shelter for as many as 32 species of mammals, 68 species of bird, 34 species of butterfly, 271 species of insect, 168 species of flower, 10 species of fern, and 31 species of fungi or lichen” (5).
  • It is no longer permitted by customs to import the English Oak into the United States without raising a Phytosanitary Certificate (5).
  • The English Oak is a very strong tree but cannot withstand maritime winds (5).  

Other interesting sites

http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/majoroak.htm tells the history of the Quercus robur that is approximately 1000 years old and still stands in Sherwood Forest. 

http://www.britannia.com/tours/rhood/majoroak.html tells the legend of Robin hood and his association with the Quercus robur.

http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/forestry/Health/commonoakmoth.htm talks about the Common Oak moth, a moth that is a predator to the English Oak tree in Ohio.

http://www.monticelloflooring.com/3Common_Oak.htm gives detailed photographs of the wood flooring that is made from the English Oak 

References: Articles, Books, Reference Materials, and the Web

  1.  Christman, S. Updated 12 November 2003.  Quercus robur. <http://www.floridata.com/main_fr.cfm?state=about&viewsrc=fdabout.htm>   Accessed 17 November 2003.

  2.  Gilman E.F., Watson, D.G.  Updated 18 November 2003.  Quercus robur English Oak. University of Florida. < http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ST558>.  Accessed 17 November 2003.

  3. Kitcher, E. 1997.Oak Common.  Health angel alternative health care.  <http://www.health-angel.com/oakcommo.htm>. Accessed 1 December 2003.

  4. Nutrition for a living planet. 2003  <http://www.geocities.com/nutriflip/Naturopathy/Oak.html>.  Accessed 1 December 2003.

  5.  Palmer, J.  Updated September 14, 2003. The Major Oak of Sherwood Forest. <http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/majoroak.htm > Accessed November 17, 2003.

  6. Reimer, Jeffrey L. and W. Mark. SelecTree: A Tree Selection Guide. <http://selectree.calpoly.edu/treedetail.lasso?KeyValue=1256>. Accessed 17 November 2003.

  7.  University of Connecticut. 2001.  Quercus robur, English Oak Truffle Oak, Pendunculate Oak, Fagaceae <http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/q/querob/querob1.html >.  Accessed 17 November 2003.

Created by:  Teresa Fox


Nazareth College

Plant Biology 2003