Oaktopia

Tree Blog

Quercus robur | Stanford

When creating a list of the most famous and historical oaks of the world, the English Oak (Q. robur) would by necessity be near the top of the list. English Oak is widely distributed through central and even northern Europe, all the way into the Mediterranean and the Balkans. England rose to global dominance with ships made of English Oak, created its agricultural land where the English Oak used to grow large and dense, and energized its entire culture burning the wood of English Oak. It is an oak deeply woven into the fabric of recent human history, though, of course, with decreasing importance in a world of metal and fossil fuels. This photo shows an old English Oak at Stanford, likely planted right along with the rest of the Stanford Arboretum, putting its age at around 120 years when this photo was taken. Growing next to it is a Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) looking surprisingly healthy - many Redwoods at Stanford look far worse than this example. A mere decade before this photo was taken, this English Oak looked much better - its decline was rapid, and likely linked to a combination of drought and changes in groundwater flow.

Dave Muffly