Oak – great tree
Oaks are trees and shrubs of the beech family. There are about 450 species of oak. They are common in places with mild weather. Oak trees can grow to 45 meters high. Their leaves can have rounded, rough, or smooth edges. The fruit of an oak tree is the acorn – a round nut in a woody cup. The buds are usually in clusters, often with several about the same size, resulting in the numbers of large irregular branches that give most oaks their characteristic rugged crowns. The male flowers develop in the form of drooping catkins, with fewer females, on short stalks, erect above the males.
The roots are quite extensive, reaching out at least three times the height of the tree and down as deep as 4.6-12.2 m.
There are both evergreen (they have no synchronous leaf loss) and deciduous species.
The English oak is the largest of the oak trees. Some oaks in England are more than 800 years old.
The tallest oak is a black oak found in Warrensville Heights, Ohio.
The white oak is common in the United States. In autumn the leaves turn deep violet and fall just before new leaves appear. The wood is light brown or yellow and the bark is scaly or rough brown to light gray.
Most trees begin acorn production after 20 years and an individual tree can produce over 5,000 nuts in a good year.
The Celtic religion venerated old oak trees, using them as a focus for spiritual rituals. The Druids believed the oak to be a sacred tree, the symbol of their religion, and potent source of wisdom. The ancient Greeks believed the rustling leaves of a sacred oak to be oracles from Zeus.
The oldest documented oak lived for 950 years in Switzerland.
The Jack London Oak was planted near the Oakland City Hall after the author died.
The Oak of Peace still standing in Glendale, California, was the site of the meeting between General Andres Pico and Colonel John C. Fremont that ended the War with Mexico in 1847.
In ancient Rome, a wreath of oak leaves was the highest award to the victorious commander.
In Greece, Scandinavia, Germany and Slavic countries, the oak was dedicated to the gods of thunder, because it was believed that the oak can withstand the thunderbolt.
Oak with acorns is an emblem of maturity and strength. Oak without acorns is the emblem of young valor. Acorn is a symbol of fertility, prosperity, spiritual energy, growing out of the grain of truth.
The wood of oak is valued in carpentry and building. The leaves, flowers, and bark were used by indigenous peoples for making medicinal drinks used to cure fevers, stop vomiting, and control diarrhea. Probably the most common worldwide use of oak is as fuel.
The image of the oak is present on many coats of arms.
Adult oak can absorb from the soil several hundred liters of water per day.
According to statistics, only one acorn of ten thousand eventually grows into a tree.
Oak barrels are widely used in the production and storage of elite beverages.