Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the black tree maintenance tags, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Family: Fagaceae
Quercus robur L.
Pedunculate oak or English oak

Black tag 194
54o 34.956N
5o 55.932W

The Botanic Gardens has an excellent collection of oak species, both evergreen and deciduous. The pedunculate oak is one of the two oaks native to Ireland (the other is Quercus petraea the sessile oak). The two species can hybridise so identification can be difficult. The oaks at the south end of the main lawn are Q. robur, having long stalks on the acorns, and leaves with a very short leaf stalk. One of the mature oaks in the main lawn succumbed to Ganoderma fungus and was felled in 2012. The male flowers are in a loosely constructed catkin (see photos below) and the female flowers are tiny (1-2mm) red flask-shaped structures that can be very hard to find.

Oaks form the dominant tree in natural Irish forests (and in most of western Europe) and have always had great economic value. Oak is the timber of choice for house building and boat building. Irish oak was exported in large amounts for every purpose from staves for barrels to the roof of Westminster Abbey.

Quercus robur in Belfast Botanic Gardens

spring foliage of Quercus robur

above and right: newly expanding leaves in April

male flowers of Quercus robur

female flowers of Quercus robur

male flowers of Quercus robur

female flowers of Quercus robur

For information about Irish oaks see Flora Hibernica by JR Pilcher and VA Hall (Collins Press)

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2007. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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