Saturday, 27 September 2008


The Greeks held the oak tree (Quercus robur) sacred and the Romans dedicated it to Jupiter. In the pre-Christian west, the oak was associated with thunder-gods such as Thor because of its low electrical resistance which caused it to be struck by lightening. Couples married under oak trees before the advent of Christianity, when preaching often took place under the shade of an oak - leading to 'gospel oak' place names.

The oak is the emblem of hospitality and strength. Its bark, leaves and acorns all have medicinal uses. The bark is used to tan leather and dye wool purple, while the acorns are used to feed swine.

The astringent effects of oak were well known in ancient times and Galen applied the bruised leaves to heal wounds. The decoction has been used as a gargle in chronic sore throat and the decoction of acorns and bark, made with milk, has been considered an antidote to poisonous herbs and medications.

It is the bark which is now mostly used in medicine - it is collected in the spring from young trees and dried in the sun. It can be taken as a substitute for quinine in intermittent fever, taken with chamomile flowers, and is useful in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.

A bitter, strongly astringent, antiseptic herb which reduces inflammation and controls bleeding.

PLEASE NOTE: These notes on the history and use of herbs have been compiled for general interest and are not intended as medical advice, for which you should consult a professional herbalist.

'A Modern Herbal' Mrs M. Grieve FRHS ed. Mrs C. F. Leyel (1973)
'The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal' Penelope Ody MNIMH (1993)
'RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses' Deni Brown (2002)


Cheryl said...

Wonderful post Hedgewitch, so intertesting.......the mighty oak is one of my favourite trees......I am surrounded by them here and love each and every one of them.....

I have just done a post on my apple tree.....I know you like her so you might like to pop over sometime........

Gosh it is good to have you back....

naturewitch said...

Hi Hedgewitch
Lovely post on the Oak. We can all draw great strength from this gorgeous tree. And its leaves, which will fall soon for you, make fantastic mulch for the garden. A friend gave me some last autumn here and now they are nestled under my raspberries, blackcurrants and elderberries. xx

Wendy said...

Well isn't this interesting. I also wrote a story (which I was going to post today but changed my mind) about an old oak tree in my back yard that I call Grandfather Oak. He is very wise and nourishes many birds, squirrels, chipmunks and others all year round.
Thanks for the info.

Q said...

Dear Hedgewitch,
The Oak is my favorite tree. Thank you for so much information. I gather my Oak's acorns every Autumn for decorating and saving for the Blue Jays and the Woodpeckers. I read deer also love the acorns in the winter.
I am gathering folklore about the Oak.
Your art pieces are lovely.

Dave Coulter said...

Excellent post. I'm a big fan of oaks! It's a tree that has been struggling here in the midwest due to deforestation, agriculture and now urbanization. When I do my guerrilla gardening I always try and plant some acorns each season


Ngaio said...

Hello fellow tree-lover - what a wonderful blog you have ! Down here in the South Pacific islands of Aotearoa (New Zealand),oak trees grow very quickly due to our temperate climate and mostly fantastic soils - my favourite is the Pin Oak, Quercus palustris,which grows amazingly well here and has such fantastic autumn colour.

Rebsie Fairholm said...

Oak is my favourite tree. I've never tried using it medicinally, but giving one a good hug is always very energising and invigorating. Powerful things, they are.

Lin said...

Thats such an interesting post. We were collecting the acorn cups with the children at the weekend, I love Oak trees.

high blood pressure prevention said...

really cool post on oak