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The Tuesday tree: a quirky Quercus

August 30, 2011
tags: , ,

Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am asking for you help. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve emailing me the number of your bank account so that I can ‘transfer funds’ or anything.) All it is, is that there is a tree here that has been on my mind, because I don’t know what it is, and I am hoping that you might recognise it.

We have any number of oak trees here, most of which are Quercus robur, the common ‘English’ oak. However, one or two are clearly Quercus something-else. On the drive there is one that I pass every day. It grows close to a common oak, so the other day I took some leaves and some photographs to compare the two. I have looked at books and at a helpful page on the ‘Garden Action’ website called How to identify different oak trees…but I am still stumped.

The tree in question is tall and rather spindly for an oak,

although its bark is similar to Quercus robur, if perhaps a little more deeply grooved.

Bark of Q. robur

Bark of Q. ?

It is deciduous but does not turn a spectacular colour in autumn, so I think (?) that rules out the North American varieties of Q. coccinea (Scarlet oak), Q. nuttallii (Nuttall oak) and Q. ellipsoidalis (Pin oak). At this end of the summer, its leaves are dark and glossy and less pliable than the English oak leaves.

Top row: Q. robur; bottom row: Q.?

I haven’t any acorns to hand, but I remember from last year that they are similar to those of the English oak; so that rules out the frilly-cupped Q. cerris (Turkey oak). It may that the acorns will prove the deciding factor: I’ll go back and have another look soon.

My best guess, at the moment, is that this tree is a Sessile oak, Q. petraea. According to the Garden Action page (as above), the Sessile oak is slender and grows happily in northern parts of the United Kingdom, so that fits. It is supposed to have long stems on its leaves, though, and I’m not sure that this one does.

the leaves on the mystery oak

for comparison: an English oak (Q. robur)

Anyway, if any dendrologist – or, indeed, fellow tree-hugger! – should chance upon this post one of these days and be able to help me out, I’d be delighted to learn. Thankyouverymuch.

(There was another oak leaf that mystified me in The Tuesday tree: the forest floor. I thought it might be from a Nuttall oak, but Kaye Brennan from the Woodland Trust thought it more likely to be a Pin oak.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. hmunro permalink
    August 30, 2011 6:49 pm

    I’m sorry to be of no use whatsoever in helping you identify the mystery oak (or “moak,” in my parlance). But I will very gladly furnish my Nigerian bank account number to help you further your research. BTW: Loved the photo of the leaves, side-by-side. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never before noticed the diversity of leaf shape that can occur within a species. Thanks for another wonderful Tuesday tree!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      August 30, 2011 10:41 pm

      Well, I’m sure your off-shore bank account number will help enormously, thank you. I can of course reciprocate by transferring to you the several millions left by your unknown childless uncle. Yeah – meanwhile – I’m glad you like the leaf photo. I’d never really studied the variations in the leaves before either. Oak leaves are enormously decorative, aren’t they? Just so pleasing somehow. 🙂

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