Reproduction of oak
Oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) is a species of oak of the Fagaceae family, native to central and north-eastern Europe.
Suitable breeding habitat –
Oak is an oak with a distribution area that includes central Europe up to north-eastern Europe, even if it is less extensive than that of the English oak. In detail, it is distributed throughout Europe except the far north, from Portugal to Moldova, in western Asia, Turkey, the Caucasus, Syria and Lebanon.
In Italy it is present in the Alpine and Pre-Alpine valleys and in the Apennines. In Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, the subspecies Q. petraea subsp. grows in mesophilous woods. austrotyrrhenica. Near Umbertide, there is an oak forest, probably of artificial origin; in Italy it would be the typical species of the lower hills and mountains (300–1100 m), if the anthropization suffered by the wood in the last centuries had not introduced the chestnut in its place.
Its habitat is that of the woods, especially on acid soils and in the western part of Britain, where it is often dominant.
Quercus petraea is a deciduous tree that usually grows 20 to 30 meters tall but sometimes reaches 40 meters.
This oak is a very important timber tree, being harvested from the wild on a commercial basis. It also provides food, medicine and various materials for local use, although its use for these purposes has gradually decreased over the last few centuries.
Oak is drought tolerant thanks to its deep root system, unlike English oak, which tolerates waterlogging for 100 consecutive days; it finds the optimum of diffusion in loose and sandy soils in which there is no possibility of root rot caused by water, moreover it has a slight preference for acid substrates but fears late frosts.
In general, it prefers deep, fertile soil but does not like clayey soils.
The young plants tolerate reasonable levels of lateral shade and, from a pedological point of view, it mainly grows on acidic soils. It thrives well in well-drained soil but is also tolerant of periodic flooding.
It tolerates exposure and strong winds if these are not loaded with salt.
Propagation is by seed which, however, rapidly loses vitality if left to dry out. It can be kept moist and cool over the winter but is best sown as soon as mature in an open seedbed, although this should be protected from mice, squirrels, etc. if you are in wooded areas or near natural areas.
Small quantities of seed can be sown in deep pots and placed in a protected seedbed.
The plants produce a deep taproot and must be transplanted into the open field as soon as possible, in fact the seeds sown in situ are the ones from which the best trees are born and formed.
For this reason young trees should not be left in a nursery for more than 2 growing seasons without being moved; after this period they take root badly or, in any case, have difficulty rooting well.
Oak is a plant of great ecological importance, both for the supply of wood and as a plant on which many wildlife live or shelter. It can be argued that no other native tree species is home to so many insect species. According to some scientific studies there are about 400 species of butterflies, several dozen of Diptera and Hymenoptera, over 100 species of beetles and various other insect species, as well as spiders, birds and mammals that depend on this oak for a living. In addition, old oaks provide ideal living conditions for various species of mosses and lichens, especially for Bactrospora dryina, a lichen typical of oak and currently threatened with extinction.
Oak is, therefore, one of the most important plant species for wildlife in Western Europe, is often used in reforestation projects and is also grown as an ornamental and shade tree.
Furthermore, oak wood is completely similar to that of English oak, from which it is indistinguishable. It is quite valuable and is used, as well as in the manufacture of furniture, in construction, for beams, parquet, in shipyards, in the construction of staves for barrels for aging wines and other alcoholic beverages, and also for the construction of coffins.
It is an excellent fuel and is also used for the production of charcoal.