Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers 'Q'

My theme this year is wild flowers. Most of us will be aware of the flowers that grow in our gardens but what surprises me is how few wild flowers that I know.

I pass them every day but rarely look at them. Well this year will be different - even if many of them may fall under the letter 'X' for unknown.

'Q' - Queen Anne's Lace, Quercus Robur

I predicted quite correctly when I wrote about cow parsley under 'C' that I would regret not saving it for 'Q' under its other name.

Queen Anne's Lace
I always thought that I could rely on the flowers from a tree whose Latin name is 'quercus robur'  before it dawned on me that I had no idea what they looked like.

Quercus robur is the tree that has the status of a national emblem - the English oak. I also learned that it is also called the common or pedunculate or French oak despite it receiving the 'title' of Royal Oak for harbouring Charles II when he was escaping Cromwell's Roundheads during the Civil War.

Hopefully by the time this post is published I shall have obtained a photo of the quercus robur that I pass every day and the flowers (or catkins) that it carries.

Oak leaves and flowers (male catkins) in Osgodby Coppice
I understand that the female catkins are smaller, but it's these that produce the 'nuts' that squirrels love.

Acorns are also known as mast, from the Scandinavian word 'mat' meaning food. Acorn is derived from Scandinavian too, 'ek korn' meaning oak corn seed. They were once served extensively as winter fodder to pigs that were allowed to roam the woods in places like the New Forest.

For years I believed that the tree grew apples like this.

Oak apple
But this is not an apple at all but rather oak apple gall a swelling caused by larvae of the gall wasp burrowing into the leaf buds as they form.

There are more species of oak trees' The Holm oak is an evergreen and is one I have still to see.

Holm oak catkins 
Some oaks have male and female catkins, others one or the other.

I have still to find out which have which.


  • Oak leaves & flowers, Osgodby Coppice - 18 April 2007, ex,uk, by Kate Jewell - CC BY-SA 2.0 generic
  • Holm oak catkins - 2 june 2006, ex, by Penny Mayes CC BY-SA 2.0 generic


Anonymous said...

I have learned something about the catkins. They are usually way above my head. And guess what I have for Q! @suesconsideredt from Sue’s Trifles
and Sue’s words and pictures

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco said...

I learned something new - never knew about acorn apples, I wrote on my southern food and memories

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

we have way different oaks than you do. Go figger.

aw said...

We have some Turkey Oaks on Otmoor, Bob. Not only is it evergreen but the acorn caps are spiky. There is also a Sessile Oak where the acorns form in clumps with vey short stems whilst the Pedunculate Oak has longer stems on the acorn. We used to "smoke" them as pipes when we were children.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - lovely selection with some beautiful photos - you've woven some interesting snippets together ... love the Osgodby Coppice - stunning name!

Cheers Hilary

Alex Daw said...

I love acorns. You don't see many (any) oak trees near where I live. Gum trees, yes.

Jo said...

Such a typical English name Osgodby Coppice. I love the English oaks or Royal Oaks, such magnificent trees.