Green Oak Moth
The teeming world of the Oak – a veritable haven for wildlife – just one tree which can live for up to 250 years ... think how much can happen in that time.
One tiny acorn from its first sprouting can survive hundreds of attacks coming at it in all directions over the years as it reaches skywards. Organisms of all sorts – weevils, mildew fungus, gall wasps, green oak-roller moth and its silk-threaded spinning caterpillar, to name a few.
Silk button gall on pedunculate oak
As it matures this strong Oak may be invaded by mistletoe and ivy, and in wetter districts by lichens, mosses, algae and ferns ... giving the Oak a ghoulish cladding.
Its fruits, the acorns, provide both a home and a food supply for the acorn weevil, the squirrel and others below. Eventually fungi will invade the oak causing its slow demise.
The many insects living on the Oak tree attract many birds. Woodpeckers excavate nesting holes in the decaying stems, search for the grubs of wood boring beetles or other insects. Squirrels build their nests high in the crown ... as they can be predatory ... other birds build their nests elsewhere.
Primrose – scented flowers bloom
in Spring, before the oak’s Summer
leaf canopy cuts off the light.
Beneath the light canopy a wide range of plants flourish. Grasses, bracken and brambles may completely cover more open Oak wood. These attract grazing and browsing animals – from field voles, shrews and rabbits to deer.
Tawny owls nest in the trunks of rotting oaks, while foxes scrub around below ... both taking advantage of the wildlife population in and around the tree itself.
Before the Oak can fully spread its wings letting nature take its course, man over the centuries often intervenes .... this magnificent traditional tree has long been known to provide lasting building timber.
We were invaded by Oak sailing ships from across the North Sea, and we now appreciate Oak in many guises – still used in ships, as floor boards, church pews, staircases and panelling in mansions and public buildings. Beer barrels and wine casks are made of it because oak is impervious to alcohol. Its wood is still much appreciated and valued today.
An old English oak in Baginton,
The mighty Oak deserves its accolades ... it has lived on through the centuries adapting to our man made world ... colonising cleared woodland, neglected commons and pastures, hedgerows and waysides.
The sturdy seedling tolerates a wide range of soils and competes vigorously to survive, while it has become so well-adjusted to British soils and climate that it can support over 200 organisms during its 250 year lifetime.
A true British great ...
This is Oak - that is what O is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories