Sun exposure:
Dappled shade, full sun


Clay / Heavy / Moist

Quercus robur, the English oak or common oak, is a British native tree. An iconic and much loved feature of the countryside, it's often found growing in woodland or as a lone majestic tree within a landscape. The lobed leaves are fresh green in summer, turning yellow and brown in autumn before falling. In spring, yellow catkins are produced and in autumn, acorns (fruits) fall to the ground.

An oak tree can live to be 1,000 years old and is often seen as a national symbol of history, strength and prosperity.

Quercus robur supports more wildlife than any other tree in the UK – it can provide food and shelter for up to a whopping 2,300 species, some of which rely solely on it for survival.

The flowers are eaten by squirrels and many types of caterpillar and their pollen is a food source for bees, including the endangered oak-mining bee. The leaves are also a food source for caterpillars and aphids. These, in turn, attract predators from higher up the food chain. Crevices in the tree bark make good nesting spots for birds, including woodpeckers and nuthatch, and provide roosting place for bats and the rare purple emperor butterfly.

The acorns are eaten by squirrels, badgers, deer and wood mice, and birds including jays, rooks, woodpeckers and nuthatch. The soft leaves create a rich leaf mould, which supports fungi and invertebrates such as the stag beetle.

This is a tree for a very large garden or parkland – it can ultimately reach 25m x 25m. However it can also be grown as a hedge – the perfect way to incorporate this beautiful wildlife plant into a smaller space. Grow in full sun or dappled shade, in moist, well drained soil. Be sure to add plenty of organic matter to the planting hole, such as well-rotted manure or garden compost. Read our advice on planting trees and planting a bare root hedge.

English oak trees do not need pruning – just remove any broken or crossing branches in autumn or winter. When planting incorporate lots of well-rotted garden compost in the planting hole. If you're growing Quercus robur as a hedge, trim in late summer to keep it to the desired size, checking carefully to ensure there are no nesting birds present.

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Advice on buying Quercus robur

  • Make sure you have enough space to grow an English oak – it can ultimately reach 25m x 25m
  • English oak can also be grown as a hedge – perfect for attracting wildlife to a small garden
  • You're likely to find Quercus robur at a specialist tree nursery or online. Always buy trees from a reputable supplier that sells British-grown or certified disease-free stock, to guarantee against pests and diseases
  • Look out for bare root plants that can be bought and planted in the dormant season – these are usually cheaper

Where to buy Quercus robur

Plant calendar


Quercus and wildlife

Quercus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies/moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers, provides shelter and habitat, has seeds for birds and makes a good wildlife hedge.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Quercus poisonous?

Quercus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People
Plants that go well with Quercus robur