English Oak (Quercus robur)

I love the quintessential Oak tree which can be found growing in hedgerows and woods but is often seen in solitary splendour in the middle of fields and at the edge of valleys. The tree is firmly rooted in British culture and the Yule log, brought out from one year to another to warm the celebrations at Christmas, is traditionally fashioned from Oak. The tree is reputed to live for a millennium or more and it doesn’t produce acorns until it is around forty years of age!

Acorns are poisonous to horses and cattle but pigs can tolerate them in small amounts. They are not, however, toxic to humans and they used to be an important food source, especially during the winter months. Medicinally the leaves, bark and acorns from the tree have the ability to tighten the mucous membranes and hence may be used in conditions such as Crohn’s and ulcerative Colitis. This is because the tree contains very high level as of tannins which is why oak was also used for tanning, (softening and preserving), leather. These properties also lend acorns a bitter taste and is perhaps why they are sometimes used as a coffee substitute