Content Detail

English oak is a long-lived oak with a broadly rounded to spreading habit and a short trunk. It is an excellent specimen tree or can be planted in a grouping in large open landscapes. The acorns provide a valuable food source for several small mammals and some birds, but trees may take up to 20 years to produce fruit.

  • Family (English) Beech; Oak
  • Family (botanic) Fagaceae
  • Planting site City parkway, Residential and parks, Restricted sites, Wide median
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 75-100 feet
  • Mature width 75-100 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, Yellow
  • Shape or form Broad, Round
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Planting considerations Messy fruit/plant parts
  • Wildlife Migrant birds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

English oak is native to Europe and southwestern Asia

Bark color and texture:

The bark on mature trees is grayish-black and deeply furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, simple, 2 to 5 inches long, and lobed, with an articulate (earlobe-like) base. They are dark green to blue-green above and lighter beneath. They have very little fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Male flowers hang downward in clusters and female flowers are inconspicuous spikes in leaf axils. They are not ornamentally important. 

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

One inch long acorns are enclosed by a warty cap attached to a 4 inch long stalk. They are shiny brown when mature. Trees may not produce acorns until they are 20 to 30 years old.

Plant care:

English oak is best planted in well-drained soil in full sun. This tree is pH tolerant and is somewhat tolerant of salt spray. Prune oaks in the dormant season to avoid attracting beetles that may carry oak wilt.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Anthracnose, powdery mildew, and oak wilt are potential problems for English oak.

Upright English oak (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’):

This variety is an upright, columnar tree reaching 50 to 60 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide.

Related hybrids

Crimson Spire oak (Quercus ‘Crimschmidt’):  

This is a hybrid between English oak (Quercus robur)  and white oak (Quercus alba). It was selected for a narrow form (15 feet wide) and good red fall color. It is tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

Heritage® Macdaniel’s oak (Quercus x macdaniellii ‘Clemson’):

This is a hybrid between bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and English oak (Quercus robur). The dark green foliage of this hybrid is resistant to powdery mildew. Fall color is yellow.

Kindred Spirit® Ware’s oak (Quercus x wareii ‘Nadler’):

This is a cross between a cultivar of English oak (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) and swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor).  It is a columnar cultivar, growing 40 feet high by 6 feet wide with red-orange fall color. It is resistant to drought and powdery mildew.

Regal Prince® Ware’s oak (Quercus x wareii ‘Long’): 

This is a cross between a cultivar of English oak (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) and swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor).  It has a narrow habit, growing 45 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide. It has excellent resistance to borers and powdery mildew. It has yellow fall color.


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