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Categories: Shooting Star Tattoo | Author: admin 30.06.2015

In 1856, an assembly Irish settlers met and discussed to form Live Oak County under this tree that may have inspired the name of the new county. All images are copyrighted by their respective creators, and may not be used without permission.
The English Oak or Pedunculate Oak (Quercus) has always been seen as the national tree of England and its great height, age and strength have made it the king of the English forest and a symbol of endurance. It is probably the best-known native tree and although found in mixed woodland throughout the UK and on many of the British lowlands, it is most common in the South and East.
When growing in open areas it has a wide, rounded crown, but woodland specimens are usually tall and slender. The branches of the trees are quite irregularly spaced and sized, and suddenly going from being quite thick to twiggy.
Under sheltered conditions and deep soil, Oaks can reach impressive heights and grow into magnificent trees of 45 metres or more in height but usually its leading shoot is eaten, forcing out side branches to form a large spreading dome up to 20 metres in height. The largest Oak recorded was a Newlands Oak and its trunk had a massive girth of 45 feet (13.5 metres) when it fell.
The Oak tree, has a period of quite rapid growth for around 80-120 years and that is followed by a gradual slowing down.
The English Oak is deciduous and loses its leaves usually around November, when they turn yellow, orange and brown before dropping off. The acorns usually appear in September and the tree tends to fruit very abundantly every 4-7 years, whilst in other years, fewer acorns are produced and in some none at all. When acorns loosen in their cups, the oak tree provides an important winter food source for many wild creatures.
Because the acorns are taken for food by several different birds and mammals, there is a chance of them being dropped a long distance away.
The acorns that survive being eaten, root very soon after falling and the seedlings develop a substantial tap root, though a shoot is not produced until the spring.
The mature English Oak tree supports a larger number of different life forms than any other British tree.
The mature wood is covered in a thick bark that has deep grooves (fissures), which is ideal for all sorts of insects to hide in.
All the caterpillars chewing away can take its toll and leave the Oak tree leaves holed and distinctly tatty, but the Oak protects itself by producing another crop of leaves in August (referred to as lammas growth – the time when trees harvest their fruits).
The activity in an Oak tree is tremendous owing to sap-sucking bugs and aphids, boring weevils, bark eating beetles, spiders, snails, bark-lice, crickets, earwigs, hornets, lacewings – all of which enjoy the hospitality of the Oak.


Often, strange structures appear on an oak tree and these attractive round balls seen swinging amongst the catkins or attached to the buds are known as Galls and house different types of wasp larva. There are various types of gall and they are caused by a gall wasp that lays its eggs inside the acorn, causing it to mutate. People used to carry acorns, as they were believed to bring good luck and to ward off illness. The Oak tree has been important to lots of different groups of people, including Greeks, Romans, Celts and Druids.
Many meetings and ceremonies have taken place under oak trees, which were thought to be magical.
The Oak has been recorded in British history since the interglacial periods, around 300,000 years ago!
It’s an important feature of the English landscape, renowned for its longevity and noted for its distinctive leaves and groups of acorns.
The twisted furrowed bark is greyish in colour and this thick bark will often save trees from forest fires and if the top is damaged then new shoots will come out from below.
The really ancient oaks are not particularly tall as they occur in places that were ancient wood pastures, where widely spaced trees were pollarded for centuries to provide timber and firewood. Oak leaves rot quickly on the ground, helping to form soil and providing food for other plants to grow.
There are male and female flowers on the same tree and the pale green catkin, typically produced in May, is the Oak’s male flower. The acorns are smooth, shiny, and oval shaped, chestnut brown in colour and up to 40mm long with up to a third of their length sitting in the acorn cup. In ancient times the acorns were a harvest for the wild boar, but now, jays, pigeons, pheasants, ducks, squirrels, mice, badgers, deer and pigs feast on acorns in the autumn.
In fact, although acorns fall beneath the Oak tree, because there are so many predators, the odds of them taking root in and around an existing Oak is very slim.
The seedlings are fairly tolerant of shade and can survive the loss of some early shoots, however, they are susceptible to other damaging influences such as caterpillar defoliation or attack by the oak mildew fungus (Microspaera Alphitoides). The vast array of insect life found in the Oak tree means that of all British trees, it supplies the most food for birds such as Tits and Tree Creepers.
Around 200 different types of caterpillar alone use the Oak and in doing so provide essential food for a variety of small birds feeding their young in the late spring and summer. The massive main branches often develop low on the trunk and become twisted and gnarled with age.


It will put up with being waterlogged for long periods of time and mature trees will tolerate flooding even by seawater.
The leaves grow on very short stalks and have deep lobes with the pair nearest the base pointing backwards. Acorns are not produced until the tree is about 25-40 years old with seed production reaching a maximum between 80-120 years. The less conspicuous, reddish-brown coloured female flowers, are barely noticeable, short spikes near the tip of each twig on the end of long stalks. It is mainly Jays who are responsible for the resurgence of new oaks as they carry the acorns away, bury them for their winter food store and often forget about them, resulting in an oak tree seedling emerging from the ground. Up to 320 taxa (species, sub-species or ecologically distinct varieties) of lichens, growing on the bark of any one tree. An old stump or branch might well have the fairly harmless Sulphur Tuft attached to it and not to be confused with Honey fungus, which is a deadly root killing fungus, of similar colour.
Hundreds of young caterpillars chew on the new leaves; so many in fact that if you stand near an Oak tree you can hear the droppings falling onto the ground below like rain.
The leaves have 5-7 pairs of lobes, forming a typical wavy-edged outline; the upper surface is dark green and the underside is paler.
After about 250-350 years, the decline of the tree sets in, branches die back and the diameter growth slows right down. The cups are rough and on stalks that are usually about twice the length of the acorn itself.
Later in the season the leaves develop tannin, which acts as a repellent to the caterpillars. If you were to cut one of those galls open, you would find the wasp larva curled up inside. Soon, the Moth pupates in the leaf litter below the tree and in the spring the whole cycle starts again.




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