Strong, reliable Oak-
The most common tree in the UK is the Oak. It is deciduous (sheds its leaves annually) and can grow up to 30 metres or more. This produces one of the hardest and most durable timbers on the planet, but it takes time to grow such a sturdy product.
It is a yellow brown colour with creamy white sapwood; a perfect colour for wooden floors and small pieces of furniture (don’t forget that with great strength comes a heavier weight.)
Oak can be used for almost anything as it produces straight and uniformed timber that is perfect for saw mills.
The strength of Oak is due to the high levels of Tannic acid within the wood. The high levels of rich tannins protect the wood against attack and damage making it great for out door use.
The conversion of sapwood into heartwood is linked to the formation of tannins. Sapwood lies closest to the bark, it is the outer and the youngest part of the wood. The collection of tannins in sapwood is generally low, making the wood less durable and prone to decay and rot. The heartwood has no living cells but a much higher density of tannins. This makes the wood far more durable and resistant to decay. As the sapwood transforms into heartwood the tannins are made.
Oak trees also provide a diverse habitat for a variety of different species of birds, insects and small mammals. Caterpillars of the purple hairstreak butterflies live on the flowers and leaves of the tree and the multitude of insects that dwell on the Oak provide a rich food supply to birds and bats that live in the tree. They also provide a food source for many different species, including badgers and deer who take advantage of the falling acorns in the autumn.
Did you know?
In England the oak is a national symbol of strength and survival.
It is also held in high regard across most cultures in Europe too. The oak was sacred to many gods including Zeus (Greek) and Dagda (Celtic). Both were said to rule over thunder and lightning, and oak trees are prone to lightning strikes as they are often the tallest living feature in the landscape.