English Oak Growing Profile

English Oak Tree, Quercus robur
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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 the 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.

Common Names

This species is typically called English oak, though you may also see it as Slavonian oak, pedunculate oak, black oak, Sherwood forest tree, Sussex weed, truffle oak, Polish oak, or French oak.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones

This species 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. It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and Asia.

Size & Shape

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.

Exposure

The site you choose for your English oak should offer full sun.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit

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.

This tree is monoecious and it will bear male and female catkins that are shades of yellow-green.

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.

Design Tips

  • 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).
  • This tree does not produce a decorative foliage display in the fall. Some varieties offer different foliage coloring during the growing season. As the name suggests, 'Variegata' has leaves that are variegated with a cream color. 'Atropurpurea', 'Nigra' or 'Purpurea' have purple leaves. 'Concordia' offers golden-hued foliage.

    Growing Tips

    • 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.
    • As with other oak tree species, it is not easy to transplant the English oak since they form a long tap root. 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.

    Maintenance/Pruning

    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.

    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