Photo by: Gordon Dickins

Sessile Oak

Gordon Dickins

Sessile, or Durmast, Oaks (Quercus petraea) are not nearly as rich in wildlife as their close Pedunculate cousins but, atop The Ercall, they have acquired a form so charismatic at least one expert has suggested they should be declared a separate sub-species. These windblown, grizzled old men of the forest are atypical of a species noted for its neat and courtly appearance but their presence, like Hart’s-tongue fern, says much about the underlying conditions in this geologically complex corner of the Wrekin Hills. Sessile Oak generally replaces Pedunculate Oak on the type of thin acidic soils found here, eschewing the heavier, alkaline soils characterising so much of the woodlands below. While the trees on The Ercall are a little uncharacteristic of the species, they do possess certainly inalienable features that should enable you to tell them apart from the English variety, the formal ‘Pedunculate’ title of which refers to the stalks that carry its acorns (the Sessile’s being secured by twigs). While they might not be quite as attractive to wildlife, mature trees still support a wide range of creatures, including many butterflies and moths. High flyers such as the Purple Hairstreak, and the beautiful Merveille du Jour (which, literally translated, means ‘the best thing I’ve seen all day’) are just two of a long list of local Oak specialists you could see among The Ercall’s Sessile residents.

Quick ID: generally taller, straighter and more elegant tree than the Pedunculate (English) Oak, Sessiles possess a high, crowned dome and a trunk that extends well into the canopy. Their bark is typically less gnarly and acorns are unstalked.

When and Where: The Ercall and Wrekin hilltops.

Links: Wrekin Ancient and Veteran Trees

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