Welcome to our website, dear readers. Oak is a genus of trees of the Beech family (Fagaceae), everywhere they became its permanent residents millions of years before man appeared on Earth. According to scientists, the first oaks appeared on the planet about 65 million years ago.
And since then, they have conquered the world, increasing their population to 600 different species.
And today we decided to take a closer look at this “wise” and “majestic” representative of the Plant Kingdom. In the article we have collected the most interesting facts about oaks.
On average, the life expectancy of representatives of this genus is about 200 years, but some specimens can live longer, even more than 1000 years.
White oak is the tallest representative of its species. Instances of Quercus alba can reach a height of up to 44 meters (while other species, on average, grow to a height of 20 meters). In addition, it is not unusual for this species to be as wide (meaning the crown) as it is tall.
In many countries of the world, it is the national tree. These countries include Bulgaria, Cyprus, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, USA and Wales.
The oldest representative of this species is the large Pechanga oak growing in California (USA). It is believed to be almost 2000 years old.
It is an integral part of the life of many animals. For example, acorns are eaten by many animals, including jays, pigeons, ducks, wild boars, deer, bears, squirrels, mice, etc. More than 30 species of birds regularly use oak as a place for their nesting. About 50 species of insects make their shelters in these trees.
This tree is mentioned many times in the Bible. One example is the Oak of Abraham. This is the tree under which, according to the Bible, Abraham received God.
One tree, on average, annually produces about 2000 acorns. But according to statistics, only 1 acorn out of 10,000 subsequently becomes a new tree.
For domestic animals (goats, cows, horses, sheep), acorns and oak leaves are dangerous to eat in large quantities. The thing is that their acorns and leaves contain tannic acid, which can cause kidney damage and gastroenteritis (an inflammatory disease of the stomach and small intestine). Among all domestic animals, the pig is the least susceptible to tannic acid.
It was once believed that if you placed an acorn on your windowsill, you could protect your home from fire and lightning damage. Such a belief appeared thanks to a legend according to which the Scandinavian god of thunder and lightning Thor, who protects gods and people from giants and monsters, once took refuge from a thunderstorm under a mighty oak.
Barrels from this tree are often used in the storage and production of various alcoholic beverages. Wine, whiskey, cognac and brandy are stored in oak barrels. Some beers are also aged in oak barrels. Alcoholic drinks can also be aged in barrels made of other wood, but only oak barrels can endow the drink with the finest aromas and share with them tannins that change the taste of the finished product.
Its wood is highly valued in the construction industry. Oak wood has a density of 0.75 grams per cubic centimeter, which is an order of magnitude greater than the density of pine wood – 0.43 grams per cubic centimeter. Therefore, it is considered the strongest, most durable and most resistant to fungi building material.
Cork oak (Quercus suber) is used to make oak corks, popular for alcoholic beverages. The main producer of these corks is Portugal, which accounts for about 55% of the world’s natural cork.
Many plants referred to as “oaks” actually have nothing to do with the genus Quercus. For example, such species include abash (called African oak), bull oak (the common name for a number of Australian tree species), toxicodendron (aka poison oak), etc.
The leaves of many species of these plants turn brilliant gold or scarlet in autumn. Small yellow-green flowers appear in spring. Male flowers hang in clusters and are called catkins. These earrings contain a large amount of pollen. This pollen is carried by the wind to fertilize the female flowers from which acorns grow.
An infusion of the bark of this tree is used in folk medicine as an astringent for the intestines for diarrhea and as an anti-inflammatory for sore throats. It can also be used for inflammatory skin diseases of an allergic, infectious and other nature.
In 1990, Russian scientists conducted studies that showed that oak bark has antibacterial activity against staphylococcus aureus.
In general, all representatives of the genus Quercus are divided into two large groups: red (or black) and white oaks. Representatives of the red group have wider leaves, with sharp ends. In the representatives of the white group, the leaves are smaller and have rounded ends.
“Reds” grow much faster than their white counterparts, and also have darker bark (dark brown or black versus light gray in “whites”).
There are so-called “living” oaks. These are members of the genus, which, unlike their relatives, do not shed their leaves before frost and remain green all winter.
This name is mainly used in North America, where the evergreen species of the genus Quercus are most common.
There is such a type of wood as bog oak. This is a very rare and valuable wood obtained from trees of the genus Quercus, which have lain in the water for a very long time. Stained wood is very durable and has a beautiful black color.
This concludes our article, dear readers. We hope this post was helpful for both adults and children.