Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Oak

Beside Osborne's Pond, a lone Oak tree stands guard over one end of the reservoir. At this time of year, the fresh, new leaves are opening and when viewed from below, with the sun shining through them, they look spectacular.
The quintessential 'English' Oak, has the scientific name Quercus robur,  the second part of the name 'robur' means 'strong, or hard timber' (as in 'robust'). This relates to it's long association with building everything, from ships to medieval halls.  The tree itself can live for well over 1000 years and the oldest in Britain is said to be either the Bowthorpe Oak in Lincolnshire or the Knightwood Oak in the New Forest, both of which are said to be around the 1000 year mark.  This one is nowhere near as old, but a lovely tree nevertheless.
Oaks are vital the British countryside as they support the highest biodiversity of insect herbivores of any British plant.  More than 400 different species of insect are said to rely on the Oak.  Birds too, rely on the tree.  One of the most obvious of these is the Jay (Garrulus glandarius) which harvests huge numbers of acorns, burying them as food store for the winter in much the same way as Squirrels do.  Jays are thought to be the primary propagators of Oak trees in the UK.
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