Turkey Oak

Quercus cerris

Also known as Wainscot Oak

This is a familiar oak around London and a long row of trees border the car park near Albert Bridge Gate. It is relatively easily identified on account of its glossy stiff leaves which usually have seven to nine main lobes. It also has a fissured bark, whiskered buds and “mossy cup” acorns. Its alternate name of Wainscot Oak is due to its old use for wood panelling. This is almost all it was ever used for as the tree suffers from the “shakes”, that is the wood splits internally during strong winds. Even so, it has been used for railway sleepers and is said to be more durable if kept permanently under water. Its main use now seems to be as a stock oak upon which to graft more fancy oaks.

Evolutionary speaking it is said to be half way between the evergreen oaks of the Mediterranean and the deciduous oaks typical of more northern latitudes. The leaves tend to dry out and remain on the tree over winter, particularly on trees up to ten years old. It is found wild from Spain to Turkey and was introduced to England in 1735. It is also a good park tree, just at home in our Park as Central Park New York.

Eighty percent of all Gall Wasps use Oaks on which to lay their eggs and Turkey Oaks are no exception, often carrying large numbers of galls. There is a handsome variegated form with white “splashes” on the leaves. This might be a useful addition to our collection, which needs a little beefing up after the hurricane and trees lost during the restoration.