I took these photographs of the Major Oak of Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, with an old pop in a roll of film camera back in the Easter of 1992. I thought this might be an interesting supplement to my previous post about the English Oak.
Although the age of the tree is not accurate to estimate, but it is believed to be between 800 to 1,000 years old, hence the added supports from preventing the huge limbs of the oak from breaking off under their own weight and during stormy weather. It is a giant tree by all standards. It is estimated to weigh 23 tons, has a girth of 10 metres, and a height of 16 metres. It has a canopy spread of 28 metres. Its odd shape and giant size has led to specualtion that this may be several trees fused together when they were saplings.
Legend has it that Robin Hood hid inside the hollow of the Major Oak whilst being persued by his enemies.
Also called ‘English Oak’ or ‘Common Oak’. When growing out in the open it can form a wide, tidy domed crown, but when growing amidst other trees in woodland it grows tall and slender. The leaves have deep irregular lobes and a short stalk or petiole. The familiar acorns are borne on long stalks or peduncles. It may possibly be confused with Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) which is predominately found in the west and north of Britain, but has longish leaf stalks and less deeply divided leaves, and the acorns are not borne on peduncles. The flower catkins show May to June, whilst the leaves also unfold in May. It grows from 15m to 25m (49ft to 82ft) tall). It can live up to and over 1,0000 years.
This is the dominant tree to be found in deciduous woods in Britain. Also found in coppice woodland, hedgerows parkland and gardens. Native to the British Isles, and it is common and widespread, especially in the south-east of England and the Midlands.
The English Oak supports more insect species than any other tree, and it is thought to be around 300 species. It also supports bird life and mammals. Grey Squirrels and Jays feed on the acorns as an essential food source in autumn and over the winter.
The Pedunculate Oak readily crosses with the Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) to form Quercus x rosacea (= Q. petraea x Q. robur) Bechst. This large hybrid oak tree is first described in 1909 and can be difficult to identify because of its variable nature.
The timber cut from oak has been extensively used by humans over the centuries, from boat building, timber-framed building construction, to furniture crafting and for smoking food. The oak has featured in numerous folklore and traditions since ancient times. It was and still is very much part of druid ceremony and it is believed the word druid may have meant ‘oak man’.