Despite its Latin name, Quercus robur is less resistant to drought than its cousin the sessile oak, making it both more valuable and more threatened by global warming.
A widespread species in Eurasia, the common oak adapts very well to oceanic, sub-oceanic and moderate to humid continental climates. Together with the sessile oak, it is the main economic species. With 4.5 million hectares of oak forests, France has almost 40% of the total area of oak trees in Europe. It is the largest producer of oak in Europe and the second largest in the world, after the United States. Oak is the French species par excellence. A pioneer to post-pioneer species, it develops on a variety of substrates, clay, silt, sand and peat. It develops well on mesophilic soils that are neither dry nor too wet, and mesophygrophilic (cool and wet). During the growing season, the common oak needs more water than the sessile oak, which is why it is well adapted to certain regions (Brittany, Mayenne, Auvergne) where rainfall is regular and droughts rare. As an adult, the common oak can withstand flooding, as can its acorn, which is not the case for the sessile oak.
The common oak thrives better in cool, wet areas than in dry, sunny ones. What may have been a strength historically during cooling periods becomes a weakness in times of global warming and increasing dryness. Thus, the common oak is less adapted to Mediterranean and continental regions than the sessile oak. It tolerates both acidic and calcareous soils and prefers deep, rich soils with a good water supply. It is essentially a tree of the plains and hills or low mountains. The oak is hardly ever found above 1300 metres in altitude.
The wood of the common oak is one of the most sought-after, along with that of the sessile oak, which cannot be distinguished by the naked eye. It is an excellent wood for carpentry and construction, and was used to build the forest of Notre-Dame de Paris, which will be used again to repair its spire and framework. It is also much sought after for cooperage, particularly for wine and cognac. In this respect, the common and sessile oaks of France are exported throughout the world. Without them, wine would not be as we know it. It is still used in marquetry, parquetry, cabinet making, slicing, carving, and for the manufacture of sleepers and poles. When the logs are of lesser quality (twisted, gnarled, etc.), it makes excellent firewood or can be used to make paper pulp (this is particularly true of wood taken during thinning operations). Finally, its bark provides valuable tannins and has long been used to tan leather.
King of our forests, once venerated by our ancestors the Gauls and Greeks, but also the Romans and Germans, it is the tree of our regions par excellence. Slow to grow, robust, vigorous, solid and long-lived, it symbolises fidelity and eternal union. It is the tree to offer for a wedding or a birth. A symbol of strength, majesty, wisdom and nobility, it is also an ideal gift to express your respect and love for your father. Finally, it is the tree that links the earth to the heavens and opens the doors to the invisible world. It can be highly symbolic to plant a common oak when one has lost a loved one.