The sessile oak is a majestic tree that dominates most forests in Western Europe. With deciduous leaves, it reaches a spectacular height, between 20 and 45 metres.
A quercus petraea in Rigney in the Doubs region, approximately 300 years old. © Arnaud 25, public domain
The sessile oak (Quercus petraea), from the Fagaceae family, is also called the "Durmast oak", "English oak" or "Welsh oak".
This species strongly resembles its cousin, the pedunculate oak, but can be distinguished by the fact that its leaves do not have auricles and are always long petioled, and by its larger and even limb. Its bark is smooth with slight lengthwise cracks. Its crown is wide but quite airy, and consists of branches that are less twisted than those of the pedunculate oak. Its leaves are alternating, clean-faced, crisply petioled, with a cuneiform base and lobes that are not very marked, but are numerous and regular. This is a monoecious species: its male flowers are located at the base of the year’s branches, in long hanging catkins, while its female flowers, more discrete, are located at the ends of the branches, in the form of red stigmas. Its buds are ovoid, while its glands are sessile, measuring from 1 to 2 centimetres, ovoid, globulous with a protruding smooth cupule.
Quercus petraeaOak, © Nikanos, CC Attribution –Share Alike terms 2.5 generic
This tree is native to Europe, and therefore was not imported from another continent centuries ago.
The sessile oak has a much more robust temperament than the pedunculate oak. However, it prefers, oceanic climates with sufficient humidity, and siliceous or calcareous soil, even if poor. It requires a regular supply of water, but can also withstand brief and mild droughts. It dreads heavy frost, especially late frosts, which tend to destroy its flowers.
The wood of this species has always been put to noble use, for example, to build ships and create beautiful pieces of furniture.
Author: Michel Caron