Hearts Of Oak
Facts, Figures and Uses
The oak flowers from April to May. The male flowers are green and inconspicuous, growing in clusters along a stalk. Pollen
from the male is blown by the wind to the female flower which then forms the seed (acorn).
Of all British trees the oak
supports the widest variety of insect and other invertebrate and fungi life.
No wonder botanists named it ‘robur’
(meaning sturdy) for until man devised iron cutting tools the oak resisted all attempts to fell it. It has been used as a
symbol for strength, as in the saying “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”.
The acorns were once an animal
foodstuff of great importance, feeding pigs on common land in forests.
Oaks were commonly planted as boundary or property
markers between farms, villages and shires.
Myths and Legends
Druids in Celtic Britain held the oak tree sacred, and gathered mistletoe from its boughs for
their secret rites.
Ever since those days, the English oak has been the “king” of British trees.
It is often
split by lightning, possibly because it is frequently the tallest tree around. As a result it was often associated with the
gods of thunder.
It is said Charles II hid from Roundheads in an oak tree during the English Civil War. Since then, Royal
Oak Day on 29 May has been celebrated.
King Arthur’s round table was reputedly made from one slice of a giant oak,
echoing both the oak and Arthur’s status as protectors of Britain.
An old country saying, used to predict the summer’s
rainfall by when the leaves come out, goes: ‘if the oak is out before the ash, the earth will only get a splash.
the ash is out before the oak, the earth will really get a soak’.