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Oak
Tree

Native British Plant

English Oak
Quercus robur

Perhaps the most nature-rich tree in Britain, supporting hundreds of species of insect, bird, mammal, fungi and other lifeforms. But you won’t find this oak growing up through dense woodland, as, though it can germinate in dense shade, it struggles to grow to maturity unless the tree can soak up sunlight. So woodland edges, glades, hedgerows and grassland are the best spot for this grand old giant.

Giants they can surely be, with enormous trunks, deeply-grooved and carpeted in lichen, moss and even ferns in the wettest of places. Oaks can be the dominant tree in some woodlands, especially where the habitat has grown up from scrub. The form of woodland trees is very different to those in exposed areas, as their trunks are elongated, with few side branches – stretching up to reach the sunlight. In exposed areas, their huge branches will droop downwards, even to the point of touching the ground, which can stabilise the tree in stormy weather.

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Buy English Oak from these sellers

We do not earn referral fees – the site is sponsored by Life to Land – the nature recovery tool. This lets us stay independent, giving you a bigger choice of sellers.

ℹ️ Many trees are out of stock during Spring and Summer. They are typically shipped and planted ‘bare root’ from November to March. However, some suppliers may sell potted trees.

Celtic Wildflowers

Swansea-based independent nursery with ethical values, specialising in potted trees.

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Habitat Aid

Somerset-based B Corp with marketplace for native plants and trees. Specialises in large orders.

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Hedges Direct

Marketplace for hedges and trees from multiple suppliers. Bare root, large order specialist.

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Naturescape

Huge Nottinghamshire-based native plant nursery offering bulk discounts on large orders.

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Woodland Trust

Charity shop, selling individual native trees (£££) and packs (£). Packs are subsidised by the charity.

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Search eBay for more sellers

Sometimes sellers may not have the plant you’re looking for in stock. eBay can be a useful last resort, with many nurseries selling direct to consumers. However, plants may not be the species advertised as sellers often make mistakes or misrepresent items. Importing plants from other countries risks spreading pests and diseases.

Grow Plants

Grow English Oak

Tree

What’s The Point?

Tree

What do we mean?

We thought that gardening was complicated enough for newbies, without dealing with terms like ‘perennial’, ‘biennial’ and ‘sedge’. So let’s make it clear and simple – why would you want to buy this plant? E.g. some ‘trees’ like Hazel are also good hedging and provide food.

Tree

Technical Plant Type

Tree

What do we mean?

We know that some of you like more detail, so here it is… 

Annual plants live for one year, then set seed; biennial plants generally grow flowers in the second year, with leafy growth in year one. Perennial plants put down deeper roots and come back every year, provided they aren’t killed off by drought, frost or acts of God/dog. 

Aquatic plants, climbers, ferns, grasses and trees are almost always perennial.

Yellow

Flower/Fruit Colour

Yellow

Flowering/Fruiting Period

March

What do we mean?

Many plants don’t just have colourful flowers, but beautiful fruits, too! Some have tiny flowers but big, bright bunches of berries. We thought it would be sensible to combine these two categories, so you can see which months of the year show the plant at its best.

Plant Height

15m
Loam
Clay
Chalk
Sand

Soil Type

Loam, Clay, Chalk, Sand

What do we mean?

Different plants like different conditions for their roots, and some species aren’t suited to certain types of soil. It’s best to check this before planting, to avoid costly mistakes. Loam looks like compost, while clay turns slippery and mouldable when wet; chalk soils are pale in colour, found above chalk or limestone rock, and sand is, well, sandy.

Moist and Free-Draining
Free-Draining

Soil Moisture

Moist and free-draining, Free-draining

What do we mean?

Roots are sensitive little organs, and some species of plant don’t like sitting around with wet feet, especially if they rely on processes at the roots, like mycorrhizal interactions. Waterlogged soils tend to have water puddling on the surface when it rains; moist soils are generally wet just below ground level and free-draining soils may be quite dry in the height of summer. And no, we don’t like the term ‘moist’ any more than you, but ‘damp’ doesn’t seem much better.

Sunny

Sunlight and Shade

Full Sun

What do we mean?

Different plants have evolved for different levels of sunlight exposure. Just like humans, some species love soaking up the rays all day while others would rather live in a cellar. This is worth considering before you stick a sun-loving plant on a north-facing balcony or pop that delicate fern in the middle of the patio.

Species Status

Native

What do we mean?

The species listed on Buy Native are, of course, native! That means they arrived on our island naturally, without human help, since the last Ice Age. This helped them to develop important relationships with our other native species – invertebrates, birds, mammals, fungi, etc, that make them crucial parts of a healthy ecosystem.

Is It Vigorous

No – this plant will not spread much, if at all, beyond the planting location.

What do we mean?

Just like introduced species, some of our native plants are very competitive – let them loose in your garden and they may well take liberties – we’re looking at you, Hedge Bindweed! We want to help you make an informed choice that avoids alienating the neighbours, which is why we also describe some, ah… enthusiastic species. Very enthusiastic species may not be available to purchase due to their unfriendly tendencies.

Uses

Timber, firewood, acorns can be made into a (poor!) coffee substitute.

Is it Dangerous?

Acorns are toxic to horses, mainly in mast years when many fall and little other food is available.

What do we mean?

We’re not thinking of man-eating vines here, but just sensible precautions you might want to take. There are a number of plants out there with toxic leaves, thorns or poisonous berries. You might want to avoid your toddler or cat munching down on these. 

Please note, this is guidance based on our research – consult a second source before foraging and do not eat any plant unless you are certain of its identity. 

This plant profile was created by Chris
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