One of the most beloved trees that you will find in an English woodland is the oak tree. As well as being a part of the woodlands we love to walk in, the oak tree is also favoured for its strength – from oak extensions like these https://www.timberpride.co.uk/oak-frame-extension/ to oak furniture, oak is widely used in building.
Even going back to early human history, people realised how useful the wood of the oak tree was – they used it to build homes and tools, and later ships from it. Even today we are still widely using oak wood for many things.
The oak trees were once worshipped by many people – the Druids associated them with good fortune and would get married under an oak tree, whilst holding acorns in the hopes of a happy life to come.
One of the most amazing things about oak trees is that they have been on the planet a very long time – unlike many plants that became extinct with the dinosaurs or during the ice age, the sturdy oak trees have managed to weather the storm, and are now found all over the planet.
One of the things that has helped oak trees to survive this long is that their seeds, the acorns are covered in a hard shell as well as an acid known as tannic acid. This acid protects them from pests such as parasitic insects and fungi.
Oak trees also have a phenomenal life span – they carry on growing for around 700 years! Once they get to this age they continue to live, but their growth starts to slow, many trees can live for over 1000 years – imagine what they have seen and what they could tell you if they could talk! The oldest known living Oak tree is in Louisiana and is known as the ‘Seven Sisters’ – it is thought to be around 1,500 years of age!
During this extensive lifetime an oak tree produces over ten million acorns! This is a vast amount, but not many grow into trees. They are food for a lot of animals including squirrels and some birds such as woodpeckers. It is estimated that only one acorn in 10,000 will grow into a tree. Once they start to grow, a tree doesn’t produce any acorns of its own until it is at least fifty years old!
Oak trees are so loved for many reasons – they are a symbol of endurance and strength, and their lifespan is incredibly humbling to us as humans. Sadly, there are many oak trees under threat is some parts of the world. In Mexico they are being cleared for farming land so that coffee can be grown, and cattle can graze on the land. It is important to preserve these ancient trees that link us to our ancestors and certainly could teach us a few things!