English Oak is arguably the best known and loved of British native trees. It is the most common tree species in the UK, more......
English Oak is arguably the best known and loved of British native trees. It is the most common tree species in the UK, especially in southern and central British deciduous woods. In England, the English Oak has assumed the status of a national emblem. English Oak is a large decidulous tree up to 20-40m tall. The leaves are around 10cm long with 4-5 deep lobes with smooth edges. Leaf-burst occurs mid-May and the leaves have almost no stem and grow in bunches. Its fruit, commonly known as the acorn, are 2 – 2.5cm long, borne on lengthy stalks and held tightly by cupules (the cup-shaped base of the acorn. Acorns are not produced until the tree is at least 40 years old. Peak acorn fecundity usually occurs around 80 – 120 years. [Woodland Trust]
The Oak is the emblem of County Londonderry in Northern Ireland, as a vast amount of the county was covered in forests of the tree until relatively recently. The name of the county comes from the city of Derry, which originally in Irish was known as Doire meaning Oak. The Irish County Kildare derives its name from the town of Kildare which originally in Irish was Cill Dara meaning the Church of the Oak or Oak Church. In 2004 the Arbor Day Foundation held a vote for the official National Tree of the United States of America. In November 2004, the United States Congress passed legislation designating the Oak as America's National Tree. In Greek mythology, the Oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods. In Zeus's oracle in Dodona, Epirus, the sacred Oak was the centerpiece of the precinct, and the priests would divine the pronouncements of the god by interpreting the rustling of the Oak's leaves. In Norse mythology, the Oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Thor's Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. According to legend, the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by Saint Boniface was marked by the Oak's being replaced by the Fir (whose triangular shape symbolizes the Trinity) as a "sacred" tree. [Wikipedia]
Thrice on my bossy shield I struck my spear;
And thrice a ghost's shrill voice was heard in air;
The sacred Oaks that skirt this sloping wood
Are dead--revive their withered roots with blood;
The blood of foes shall fertilze the plain,
and Odin's spirt feast on heaps of slain.
Hark! now I hear his mighty voice from far--
Rise, sons of Odin, and prepare for war