The oak tree is one of our best-loved native species. It symbolises strength, endurance and tradition. But there is far more to this tree than you might imagine. Here are ten fascinating facts about the oak tree that you might not know:
The long-lived oak is a valuable eco asset. Over their long lives, oak trees take in and sequester carbon, thereby stopping that carbon from being released into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. As they live so long, oak trees play a more significant role in this regard than many other trees.
Another way in which oak trees help the environment is through increasing biodiversity. Oak forests provide an extremely rich habitat for a wide range of creatures and oak trees play host to more wildlife than any other native tree.
You may not realise it, but there are actually around 600 species of oak. Two of these species are found in the UK. The only difference between our English (Or Pedunculate) Oak and Sessile Oak is that the acorns of the English oak have stalks (known as peduncle) while the sessile oak acorns do not.
Oaks are struck by lightning more frequently than other types of a tree because they tend to be taller and are often the highest point in a landscape. For druids, the lightning increases the significance of the oak tree. They believe that they can receive ‘arwen’, or inspiration, by ‘courting the flash’ from the lightning as it strikes the trees.
Oaks are a useful and versatile building material. The timber’s strength and durability mean that it has been much used throughout history. Oak was used to built the bronze-age ‘Sea Henge’, found in the north Norfolk mud flats. It is thought that this was used for funeral rites and shows oak’s amazing durability.
Shipbuilding and War
Oak has also been used throughout the ages to build many ships. There are some famous examples, including the HMS Victory, which used over 6,000 trees in its construction, many of them oaks. As Naval shipbuilding outstripped supply, wars were even fought to secure oak supplies from abroad.
Love and Marriage
As a symbol of strength and longevity and tradition, oak is the symbol for the -rarely reached – 80th wedding anniversary. The oak tree is a symbol of steadfast love.
The bark and acorns of the oak tree have been used as a medicinal remedy for a number of ailments throughout history, including inflammation, kidney stones and diarrhoea. The oak has long been considered as a useful tree.
Food and Drink
Another use humans have made of oak trees is for consumption. Acorns were ground to make a flour used to make bread, and have also been used as a substitute for coffee. Sprouting acorns were also used to make an alcoholic beverage.
The Write Stuff
Oak tree galls were also used throughout history to make ink. Many of the most important texts in Western history, from the Magna Carta, to Newton’s Theories, to Mozart’s musical scores, were written using oak gall ink, which was the standard ink used between Roman times and the 19th Century.
Do you have any question about oak projects? Please, email us.