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Oak, the king of the forest


Oak is a common forest tree. It’s most majestic when it grows to great heights.

Key Oak facts

Name – Quercus
Family – Fagaceae
Type – tree

Height – 50 to 115 feet (15-35 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – not too chalky

Foliage: deciduous  –  Flowering: spring   –   Acorn harvest: fall

Often grown in parks or woods, it is only grown in our gardens if sufficient space is available.

But there are actually a great many oak varieties, and choosing the right one is important since some are perfectly suited to growing in smaller gardens.

Planting oak

Planting oakIt’s important to plant your oak tree well, since this is the most crucial part its life. Growth and proper settling in depend on how well it’s planted.

Plant it in an isolated spot, as a standalone, because oak can grow very large, sometimes dozens of feet across and even taller than it is wide…

  • Oak needs sunlight all day long. If it grows in the shade, it’ll stay short and stunted.
  • Water well during the first year after planting.
  • Follow this planting advice scrupulously and favor cool soil.

Pruning an oak tree

Autumn oak leavesIt isn’t necessary to prune oak trees, if only after a few years to remove branches that jut out of the trunk in the first six feet (two meters). This will help mow the lawn under the tree more easily.

If you must prune oak, winter is best, but not during days when it’s freezing.

Also, remove dead, weak and fragile branches regularly when you notice them.

Acorn, the fruit of the oak tree

oak acornAn oak tree’s seed is called an acorn.

It takes several years for the tree to grow large enough to start producing acorns. It’s also interesting to note that acorn production is very irregular: one year might have very many, and the year after that only very few.

Usually, you can harvest or pick the acorns in fall, around September and October.

Many animals feast on acorns: squirrels, wild boars, and other forest-dwelling creatures. In days of old, its acorns were eagerly dug up by pig herds left to forage in clearings.

Learn more about oak

Oak is a name given to a great many trees and shrubs, all belonging to the Quercus genus.

Large oak tree in the forest.Key species include common oak (described in this post), evergreen oak (Quercus ilex), and cork oak (Quercus suber).

Some species have evergreen leaves, whereas others, like pedunculate oak, lose their leaves every winter.

Oak, sometimes called the “King of the forest”, is remarkable for its wood, the beauty of its leaves, and its majestic inspiring silhouette, especially when it grows to be dozens of feet tall.

In fall, the hues of its leaves are like fire, with bright red, orange and yellow colors.

It’s very easy to sprout acorns in a pot of soil, but avoid planting forest oak in your garden. Though it grows slowly, it will in time reach a spectacular height. You might feel like you made a mistake…

Diseases and parasites infecting oak

  • Oak processionary – Treating against these is difficult for tall oak trees. There are treatments against oak processionary caterpillars.
  • Leaves covered in white dust – It is most probably powdery mildew.

Smart tip about oak

Even though it starts out straggly and twisted, in time, an oak tree will straighten its trunk if surrounded by taller neighbors.

Images: 123RF: Jan Kvita; own work: Noémie Lorthiois; Pixabay: Erwin Nowak, Gábor Adonyi, Yvonne
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