Columnar English Oak Profile

Big and Beautiful

English Oak Tree (Quercus robur)

Travelpix Ltd/Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Though it is native to three different continents, the English oak (Quercus robur) is a stately tree best known for being part of the forests and landscapes of England. It is a large species which is more commonly found in public settings like parks, though it can certainly be grown in larger home gardens if you have space. This oak tree species may live for hundreds of years. There are also columnar varieties available so you can have the look of an English oak in a much narrower space.

Oak trees are classified into different groups within the genus. Quercus robur is considered to be part of the white oaks. This tree is also considered to be the type species, making it the best example of the oak tree genus.

Growing the Columnar English Oak
Botanical Name Quercus robur)
Common Names English oak, Slavonian oak, pedunculate oak, black oak, Sherwood forest tree, Sussex weed, truffle oak, Polish oak, French oak
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 40–70' tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Moist with full drainage
Soil pH Wide range
Hardiness Zones 5–8
Native Area Europe, northern Africa, and Asia

How to Grow The English Columnar Oak

As with other oak tree species, it is not easy to transplant the English oak since they form a long taproot. The best option is to start an acorn at your planting site. Varieties are propagated through grafting to ensure that its distinguishing characteristics stay true.

The English oak does not grow very fast and usually will not need much, if any, pruning as it will naturally create a pleasing shape over the years. Proper maintenance should include the removal of any parts of the tree that have become dead, damaged or diseased to help the tree stay healthy.

The mature size for most trees will be 40-70' tall and wide, though in the wild it can be over 100' tall. In its early years, it has a pyramidal shape. Over time it will form into a round shape.

The green foliage is 2-5" long and features 3-7 rounded lobes. A characteristic that can be used to identify the species is that the petiole (connecting leaf stalk) is quite short. The leaves may turn brown in the autumn and may not fall off until winter.

The fruit is an oval acorn that is 1" long. A stem called a peduncle (the source of the name peduncle oak) is connected to the cupule (the cup at the top of the acorn) that attaches it to the branch.

Light

The English oak grows best in full light, though it can tolerate some shade.

Soil

Quercus robur is able to tolerate a range of soil pHs from acidic to alkaline. For optimal growth, find a location that has soil that stays moist but still provides good drainage.

Water

English oak trees prefer occasional irrigation. They can, however, tolerate relatively mild drought.

Temperature and Humidity

This tree is not temperature or humidity sensitive, though it is best suited for Zones 5–8. The tree can grow in sheltered spots in Zone 4, though freezes can be damaging or even deadly.

Varieties of English Columnar Oak

You will need an extra-large yard if you wish to grow one of these oaks. It also is used in public gardens and parks.

  • Fastigiata and Skyrocket are columnar varieties that spread up to 15' wide, making it possible for more people to plant Quercus robur in their landscape. You can also look for the Crimson Spire™ oak ('Crimschmidt'), which is a cross between the English oak and the white oak (Quercus alba).
  • Pendula has branches that create a weeping form.
  • Filicifolia and Dissecta bear leaves with a lacy look as the lobes are deeply divided into many narrow sections. The leaves of 'Salicifolia' are similar in appearance to those of willow trees (Salix).
  • As the name suggests, Variegata has leaves that are variegated with a cream color.
  • The Atropurpurea, Nigra, or Purpurea varieties have purple leaves.
  • Concordia offers golden-hued foliage.

Common Pests & Diseases

This oak tree species is noted to be resistant to sudden oak death at this time. Diseases include:

  • Acute oak decline
  • Anthracnose
  • Cankers
  • Chestnut blight
  • Leaf Spots
  • Oak leaf blister
  • Oak Wilt
  • Powdery mildew
  • Shoestring root rot

Pests include:

  • Aphids
  • Borers
  • Caterpillars
  • Galls
  • Lace bugs
  • Leaf miners
  • Nut weevils
  • Oak gall wasps
  • Oak lace bugs
  • Oak skeletonizer
  • Scales
  • Spider mites