A buyer’s guide to Oak Trees (Quercus)

With more than 600 species of Oak worldwide, it is important to understand the qualities of each member of the ‘Quercus’ genus.

These range from the classic ‘Quercus robur’, the English Oak; the Evergreen Oak ‘Quercus ilex’ and varieties such as Pin Oak ‘Quercus palustris’ and Red Oak ‘Quercus Rubra’, which turn from glossy green leaves in late spring to a bright crimson in the Autumn.

 

Various oak tree leaves
From left: English Oak, Red Oak, Evergreen Oak.

 

English Oak

The ‘Quercus robur’ stands as one of the best species for supporting native wildlife in Britain. The English Oak is deciduous, so loses its dark green lobed leaves in Autumn – albeit this tree instead produces masses of acorns that are preceded by small greenish catkins in Spring. The bark is dark and becomes grooved throughout maturity. This species is particularly well suited to larger gardens, parks and woodlands. ‘Quercus robur’ is available as a standard tree.

Evergreen Oak

The ‘Quercus ilex’ is also known as the Evergreen Oak, holding its dark green, glossy leaves all year round. It is for this reason the ‘Quercus ilex’ can be used as an effective evergreen screen if bought as a standard tree (with a clear stem) or clipped into a hedge if bought in bush form. As a standard tree, this Quercus can efficiently add privacy to your garden without taking up a great deal of space.

Red Oak

The leaves of the deciduous ‘Quercus Rubra’ turn a bright crimson red in the Autumn. The Red Oak is one of the faster growing Quercus varieties and notably holds a higher tolerance to polluted air. This variety has large, lobed shaped, leaves that turn from a lighter to darker green over the Spring, before emerging as an attractive Autumnal display. ‘Quercus Rubra’ is available as a standard tree.

Once planted, all Quercus species will require watering throughout the first growing season.

 

Further reading:

Oak Trees

English/Common Oak – RHS

Evergreen/Holm Oak – RHS

Red Oak – RHS