Fagaceae – A significant presence in Whiteknights

The Whiteknights tree collection is famous for its Fagaceae!  For example, in his twelve favourite Whiteknights trees, University of Reading’s tree expert Mr Rupert Taylor included 6 Fagaceae: 5 Quercus robur and 1 Castanea sativa (BBC, 2008).

Three important genera of the Fagaceae in Britain are – Castanea (Chestnut), Fagus (Beech) and Quercus (Oak) and each has its unique occurrence in Whiteknights (Grice and Jury, 2011). I have chosen Q. robur and Q. cerris to demonstrate its long history in Britain and its abundance’s on the Whiteknights campus. Some will favour Q. robur because it is a native in the UK, I understand this perspective, nevertheless I still equally savour both of them because they are HUGE!

The most outstanding Q. robur (known by several vernacular names -Common oak, English oak, Pedunculate Oak) specimen can be found near Carpark 4, behind the Carrington Building (UoR, 2010).  King of the forest tree as it has been called,  well known for its robust and sturdy nature yet reproductively it may need half a century to produce its first crop of seeds (Kew, 2012a). It grows well on various types of soil except marshy, chalky or very light soil (Johnson & Moore 2004; Stace 2010).

Q. robur. Picture by Liew.

Next, my favourite Q. cerris (Turkey Oak) is growing near the L- junction next to the Chemistry building. It was introduced to Britain as a potential alternative to Q. robur as a timber source, but it turned out to be good for the eye’s amusement only, ending up grown mostly for ornament (Kew, 2012b). It is nonetheless an adaptable tree, flourishing in well drained soil (Stace, 2010).

Q. cerris. Picture by Liew.

Q. robur and Q. cerris can be found growing next to each other in the Wilderness at Whiteknights. For me they seem to be long lost siblings and reunited in the wild. Both have been serving the human needs. These are trees with personality!


BBC (2012) Berkshire. Nature. Barking up the right tree. http://www.bbc.co.uk/berkshire/content/articles/2008/11/26/national_tree_week_reading_uni_feature.shtml. (accessed 27th October 2012)

Coombes, A. (2004). Trees: A unique photographic guide to the trees of Britain and Europe. Dorling Kindersley. London.

Grice, D.L., & Jury, S. L. (2011) Flora of Whiteknights Park: A survey of the plants of the University of Reading Whiteknights campus. University of Reading.

Johnson, O. & Moore, D. (2004) Tree Guide: The most complete field guide to the trees of Britain and Europe. Harper Collins. London.

Kew, (2012a) . Trees at Kew. Turkey Oak. http://apps.kew.org/trees/?page_id=89. (accessed 26th October 2012).

Kew, (2012b) . Trees at Kew. English Oak . http://apps.kew.org/trees/?page_id=92. (accessed 26th October 2012).

Mitchell, A. (1974) A field guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Collins. London.

Publications for local residents. University of Reading. Whiteknights Tree Walk Guidehttps://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/fmd/Grounds_Tree_Walk_Brochure.pdf (accessed 25th October 2012).

Stace, C. A. (2010) New flora of the British Isles. 3rd edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


Related references

The Gardener’s Blog. Friends of the Harris Garden. Notable Trees at The University of Reading. http://www.friendsoftheharrisgarden.org.uk/UoR%20tree%20walk%202007%20pg1.htm (accessed 25th October 2012).

Woodlands.CO.UK, (2012). A guide to tree identification.  http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/tree-identification/beech/


http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/tree-identification/oak/ (accessed 26th October 2012)


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