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TREES & plants

English oak

Summer foliage of English oak.

English oak is a long-lived oak with a broadly rounded to spreading habit with a short trunk. It is an excellent specimen tree or can be planted in a grouping in large open landscapes. The acorns form a valuable food source for several small mammals and some birds but trees may take up to 20 years to produce fruit.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars and related hybrids.

Botanical name: 
Quercus robur
All Common Names: 
English oak, truffle oak, pedunculate oak
Family (English): 
Beech; Oak
Family (Botanic): 
Fagaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • City parkway, 
  • Wide median, 
  • Restricted sites
Landscape Uses: 
  • Parkway/street, 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
75-100 feet
Mature Width: 
75-100 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Messy fruit/plant parts
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous, 
  • Yellow
Shape or Form: 
  • Broad, 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Migrant birds
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Best planted  in well-drained soil in full sun.
This tree is pH tolerant and is somewhat tolerant of slat spray.
Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.

Disease, pests, and problems

Anthracnose, mildew, and oak wilt are potential problems

Native geographic location and habitat

Europe and southwestern Asia

Bark color and texture 

Mature trees grayish-black and deeply furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, simple, 2-5 inch long lobed leaves with articulate (earlobe-like) base.
Dark green to blue green above, lighter beneath.  Very little change in color for fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male flowers hang downward in clusters, female flowers are inconspicuous spikes in leaf axils. Not ornamentally important.

English oak (Quercus robur)English oak (Quercus robur)photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

One inch long acorns are enclosed by a warty cap attached to a 4-inch long stalk.  Shiny brown when mature.
Trees may not produce acorns until the are 20 to 30 years old.

Cultivars and their differences 

Upright English oak (Quercus robur 'Fastigiata'): An upright, columnar tree reaching 50 to 60 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide.

 

Related hybrids

Crimson Spire oak (Quercus 'Crimschmidt'):  a hybrid between English oak (Quercus robur)  and White oak (Quercus alba). It was selected for a narrow form (15 feet wide) and good red fall color. It is tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

Heritage® Macdaniel's oak (Quercus x macdaniellii 'Clemson'): This is a hybrid between Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and English oak (Quercus robur).  The dark green foliage of this hybrid is resistant to powdery mildew.  Fall color is yellow.

Kindred Spirit® Ware's oak (Quercus x wareii 'Nadler'): A cross between a cultivar of English oak (Quercus robur 'Fastigiata') and Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor).  A columnar cultivar, growing 40 feet high by 6 feet wide; red-orange fall color.  Resistant to drought and powdery mildew.

Regal Prince® Ware's oak (Quercus x wareii 'Long'):  A cross between a cultivar of English oak (Quercus robur 'Fastigiata') and Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor).   Narrow habit (45 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide); excellent resistance to borers and powdery mildew.  Yellow fall color.

Streetspire® oak (Quercus robur x alba 'JFS-KW1QX'): A narrow, columnar cultivar gorwing 45 feet tall and only 14 feet wide; powdery mildew resistant; red fall color.

 

 

 

 

Quercus robur or English oak