Quercus petraea

30 Apr

Quercus petraea flower (22/04/2011, Kew Gardens-London)

Quercus petraea flower (22/04/2011, Kew Gardens-London)

Position: Full sun but will tolerate partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained, will not do well on chalky soils

Flowering period: Late spring

Eventual Height: 30m

Eventual Spread: 25m

Hardiness: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b

Family: Fagaceae

Quercus petraea is a deciduous tree with a spreading habit. The bark   is ridged and grey with the dark green foliage being ovate, obovate or oblong in shape with deeply lobed margins and supported on stalks. The inflorescence is in the form of catkins borne in spring and flowered by stalk-less ovoid to oblong acorns borne singly or in clusters.

Quercus petraea (20/04/2011, Kew Gardens-London)

Quercus petraea (20/04/2011, Kew Gardens-London)

Quercus petraea, commonly known as Sessile Oak, Durmast Oak or Welsh Oak, is native to most of Europe, including the UK. It  has had a long history in Britain; being the national tree of Wales it is also known as the Welsh Oak. It has been historically used for construction such as timber frames or for boat construction. The heartwood resists penetration by liquids making it ideal for barrels and casks.

The etymological root of the binomial name Quercus is the ancient Latin name for an Oak tree but some authorities believe it to be derived from the Celtic quer meaning ‘fine’ and cuez meaning ‘a tree’. Petraea is named for Lord Robert James Petre, 18th century English patron of botany and horticulture.

The landscape architect may find Quercus petraea useful as a stately specimen tree where room allows. This tree may also form an important part of a native woodland mix. This tree may also from part of a native hedge mix; being especially valuable to wildlife.

Quercus petraea will prefer slightly acidic soil but will tolerate a wide pH range so long as the soil is free draining.

Quercus petraea Bark (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus petraea Bark (28/07/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Quercus petraea will cater for a wide range of animals including jays, pigeons, blue ground beetles, pheasants, ducks, squirrels, mice, badgers, deer, dormice, tits and tree creepers with its acorns in autumn.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given Quercus petraea their prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Quercus petraea requires little care, dead or damaged material should be removed at the end of winter. For advice on hedge cutting pleas click here.

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