Quercus robur L.

English Oak

Deciduous broad-crowned tree to 20 m or more tall with the trunk dividing low down. Branches massive, widespreading. Bark grey and furrowed. Shoots hairless. Leaves deciduous, variable in size and shape, mostly 6-12 cm long, 6-8 cm wide, oblong to obovate, mostly eared at the base but occasionally rounded with 3-4(-7) shallow lobes on each side, larger near the tip, hairs sometimes few on the midrib below, dark green above, pale below; colouring yellowish in autumn. Leaf stalk 4-7 mm long. Acorns 2-4 cm long, oblong to ovoid, solitary or clustered on a common stalk 1.5-7 cm long; cup covering about one third. [Q. pedunculata Ehrh.]

Europe, N Africa, W Asia

Historically one of most widely planted oaks in SE Australia, with the possible exception of Q. palustris, Pin Oak, and Q. canariensis, Algerian Oak. Sometimes shows the tendency to spread nearby through seedling plants but not invasive.

Principal hardwood especially in the UK where it was once used for sailing ships, furniture, housing and charcoal; the acorns are eaten by pigs.

Leaves with mostly 3-5 lobes on each margin; acorns long-stalked (cf. Q. petraea). This species is extremely variable, sometimes having leaves that are 4-5 times the usual length. Identification is complicated by hybrids; those involving Q. canariensis usually have a greater number of shallower lobes, and acorns on shorter stalks; those involving Q. petraea have more or less stalkless acorns and slightly longer leaf stalks.

Morris & Perring (1973), McArdle & Santamour (1985).

SA: Aldgate ('Stangate House', Edgeware Rd, 32 m tall with canopy spread of 40 m and trunk circumference of 5.63 m at chest height-the largest known specimen in South Australia. ACT: Duntroon (Officers Mess). NSW: Allegedly Australia's oldest oak was planted at Camden Park (formerly Belgenny Farm) by William Macarthur, son of John Macarthur, famous for his introduction of Merino sheep. John brought back an acorn from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London and this was planted on the property in about 1817; Bathurst (Historical Society); Berrima (Memorial Park, planted by Sir Henry Parkes in 1890); Goulburn (Belmore Park, planted Lady Belmore in 1869); Mt Wilson ('Yengo' planted c. 1877; 'Windy Ridge'); Orange (Cook Park planted c. 1878); Wagga Wagga (Collins Park, more than 100 years old). VIC: Alphington (Latrobe Golf Club, social centre of the early colony frequented by Governor La Trobe, between the 8th tee and 12th green. Once part of the private property 'Lucerne' purchased by T. W. Wills in 1840 and demolished in 1960: said to have been planted in 1842, girth 7 m, grown from an acorn brought from NSW. The oldest known cultivated tree in Victoria, 19 m tall in 1991.); Ballarat (Institute of Catholic Education, Mair St; Sturt St; Lake Wendouree); Beechworth (Mayday Hospital, avenue labelled); Brighton (Anzac Hostel); Castlemaine (Castlemaine Botanical Gardens planted 26.5.1863 to celebrate marriage of Prince and Princess of Wales, 21 m tall, 34 m wide, probably second largest in the state); Creswick (street trees); Canterbury (avenue west end of Canterbury road); Creswick (Dept. Consn & Nat. Res. Nursery, a major specimen planted c.1927); Hamilton (Hamilton Botanic Gardens, probably the largest in Victoria, 22.5 m tall in 1985); Emerald Lake Park (many); Maldon (planted 1863, 2 specimens with plaques commemorating the marriage of Queen Alexander and King Edward, about 20 m tall and fine specimens in 1984); Korumburra (Primary School); Kyneton (Kyneton Botanic Gardens, planted 1887); Leongatha (Mossvale Park - many); Loch (roadside west of township); Mildura (Deakin Ave Memorial Gds); Narre Warren (avenue Princes Hwy); Melbourne (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne Gardens), Oak Lawn); Woodend (Avenue of Honour planted c. 1920). TAS: Deloraine (Meander River Reserve next to bridge with plaque commemorating Baden Powell, also by swimming pool); Evandale (5 trees cnr Rogers Lane and Russell St); Hobart (City Park; Princes Square and most large parks); Longford (Anglican Church planted c. 1865); New Norfolk (by river); Port Arthur (old trees supplied by Governor John Franklin). Many old trees throughout the island.


Q. lobata Née is very similar and occasional specimens may be encountered; its branchlets are persistently hairy into the 2nd year and leaves are hairy above and with more than 7 lobes on each side; the most obvious feature, however, are the long, narrow acorns (Dunrossil Drive, Canberra) and in Victoria at Castlemaine Botanical Gardens and Kyneton Botanic Gardens.

Source: Spencer, R. (1997). Fagaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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Distribution map

Quercus robur 'Argenteopicta'

Leaves mottled, gradually becoming green with paler patches. Originated Germany pre-1864. Specimens?vic: Hamilton (Lake Hamilton Caravan Park, Mill Rd, 7.5 m, 5 trees).

Quercus robur 'Atropurpurea'

Dark brown-violet leaves reminiscent of the Purple Beech in colour, slow growing. Origin uncertain but known in European cultivation in 1864. Specimens?vic: Melbourne (Royal Bot. Gds, Oak Lawn); Mt Macedon ('Forest Glades' 5 m in 1984). '

Quercus robur 'Concordia'

Leaves entirely yellow, extremely slow growing.

Possibly originating in France, available in van Geert's nursery, Belgium in 1843, England in 1868.

Tends to burn in hot sun.

Propagated by grafting or budding scions on Q. robur rootstock.

SA: Beechwood Heritage Garden, Adelaide Hills; 'Auchendarroch', Mt Barker planted c. 1880, 15 m tall with canopy spread of 16 m in 1994. VIC: Ballarat (Nara St); Kyneton (Kyneton Botanic Gardens); Mt Macedon ('Dreamthorpe'); Riddells Creek.

Lothian (1992).

Quercus robur 'Fastigiata'

A tall, narrow form like the Lombardy poplar. Grows true from seed and possibly a botanical form native to the Pyrenees. Listed in England in 1838. Specimens?act: Acton (in front of University Hall Gallery); Yarralumla (opp. Sailing Club). Nsw: Faulconbridge (Jackson Park, Whitlam and McMahon trees); Wentworth Falls ('Pirramimma'). Vic: Ballarat (Victoria Park, Lydiard St street tree); Colac (Bot. Gds); Melbourne (King's Domain, about 10 m tall, opposite the Botanical Hotel); Leongatha (about 12 m tall, road behind butter factory); Mt. Macedon (park opposite Honour Avenue, 27 m tall in 1990, finest in state); Wandin (Melbourne City Council Nursery). '

Quercus robur 'Fennessii'

Leaves narrow, often convex, cut into upwardly-pointing lobes.

Originated c. 1820 from the Fennessy Nursery, Waterford, Ireland.

VIC: Leongatha (Mossvale Park).

Quercus robur 'Nigra'

Leaves deep purple. Available in nurseries in Germany and Belgium before 1863.

Quercus robur 'Pectinata'

Leaves cut into narrow lobes that are not quite cut to the midrib as in 'Filicifolia'. Available before 1870 in Europe.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Fagales
family       Fagaceae
genus        Quercus L.