English oak, or Quercus robur, is one of the world's most popular oaks, and for good reason. English Oak has a majestic form that lends permanence and stability to any site. These massive trees grow quickly and can exceed 100 feet, though, in cultivation 60 feet is about the norm. Its outline is a short trunk with a low-branching canopy and secondary branches which are thick and solid and covered with deep-fissured blackish-grey bark. The foliage is small with rounded lobes—not bristle-toothed as seen in many other oaks. The classical leaves and acorns depicted in heraldry and carvings, from ancient days till now, are from the English oak.

English oak grows best in free-draining organic soil with summer irrigation, but it will tolerate many soil types. In ideal sites it will become a grand tree within two decades. On compacted sites, English oak will grow more slowly, but will still develop into a impressive, strong-wooded tree.

English oaks have been grown and admired for centuries and for centuries superior forms have been selected, forms which often address the few shortcomings, either real or perceived, of the species. They can, for example, suffer from powdery mildew, a condition that seems to be mostly cosmetic. And often the autumn foliage is not exceptional, but is simply a nice rich, brown. And of course the size does limit the use of the species to country properties, parks or universities. But all of these conditions are easily remedied by any of a vast number of improved cultivars, a very few of which are:

'Concordia' -golden-yellow young leaves which turn greener later.

'Crimson Spire - columnar form, 15 feet wide, fast growing, mildew resistant, red fall color

'Fastigiata’ a more suitable size for today' gardens, it is strong-wooded, with small leaves.

'Filicifolia' - is a cultivar where the leaf is pinnately divided into fine forward pointing segments.

'Pendula' ("Weeping Oak"), - small to medium sized with pendulous branches

'Purpurea' a cultivar growing to 30 feet with purple coloured leaves.

'Regal Prince' - columnar to narrow habit, 20 feet wide, glossy bright green summer foliage, yellow fall color, and highly mildew resistant.

'Rosehill’ - narrow oval habit, 20’ wide, glossy green foliage, yellow fall color, good mildew resistance

'Skymaster - narrow when young, pyramidal with age, 30’ wide, strong central leader, good branching angles, reportedly mildew resistant

'Skyrocket' - uniform columnar habit, 15’ wide, leafs out early, yellow-brown fall color, reportedly moderately mildew resistant.

As usual, this special tree and its cultivars will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant or tree nursery.


English oak

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