English oak, pedunculate oak, French oak (Eng); roble común, roble albar, carballo (Spa); roure pènol (Cat); aritza (Baq); carballo (Glg); carvalho-comum (Por).
The oak tree is war, the oak / speaks of valour and courage, / motionless rage / in its twisted branches; / and it is more rugged / than the holm oak, more sinewy, / more haughty and more noble.”
'Las encinas' [The Holm Oaks], Antonio Machado
A robust and majestic tree that can exceed 40 m in height, with a straight trunk and a wide, regular crown. Its bark is greyish brown and smooth until the tree is approximately 20 years old, after which it becomes cracked and thick. The leaves are deciduous, 5-18 cm long by 2-10 cm wide, spatulate or oblong, usually widening towards the upper third. The base of the leaves has small appendages. The margin is lobed and the leaf stalk is small, about 2-7 mm in length. The tree flowers in the spring; the yellowish-green male blooms are borne in long hanging stems (catkins), and the female blooms, which are surrounded by reddish-brown scales, are either solitary or in small groups of 2 or 3 on the same plant. One common name for this tree is 'pedunculate oak', in reference to the long stalk (peduncule) of the acorns, not the leaves. These fruits mature at the end of the summer and, when they fall in the autumn, they separate from their whitish cap (or husk).
This species prefers cool, well developed, acidic soils, although it can withstand compact substrates with temporary flooding. This tree naturally forms copses or extensive forests in temperate climates that do not suffer prolonged droughts in the summer. It requires quite a lot of light, particularly in its early growth stages. In some zones in the Canaries, the English oak has been cultivated as an ornamental species and even transferred to other areas by farmers, who used it as a fodder tree, leading to it becoming naturalised on the islands. It is closely linked to the midslopes, or medianías (zones between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m above sea level), although it can also be found in higher strips forming small copses.
This tree occurs throughout Europe and the Caucasian region. In the Canary Islands it was principally introduced as an ornamental and currently it is considered to be established on Tenerife and Gran Canaria.