Oak Trees: The Evolution and Why We Admire Them
You’ve probably seen an oak tree at least once in your life, as they’re some of the most popular and important trees in the world. Interestingly, these mighty trees can grow up to 70 feet in height and withstand various weather and growing conditions. Oak trees are common choices to plant, as they’re relatively low-maintenance and incredibly beautiful. Whether you’re thinking about adding some to your property or just want to know more about nature, follow along for the evolution of oak trees and why we admire them.
56 Million Years Ago
Many, many years ago, the world looked much different than it does today—including the plants and trees we know now. Oak trees were one of the first tree species in the world, dating back to 56 million years ago. However, they started as one species or cultivar in one area—now, there are roughly 400 different types of oak trees all over the planet. Even though these trees have been around for a significant time, they’ve continued to develop and evolve throughout the centuries to become the mighty oaks we know and love today.
Climate Changes in the Past
Most researchers believe that oak trees originated in the northern hemisphere, as they thrive in cooler temperatures. These trees were more common in the area we now know as Canada, but various climate changes caused them to expand to other regions on Earth. Around 30–40 million years ago, some areas became too cold for tropical plants to survive. As a result, oak trees took the opportunity to move south. This is most likely how oak trees became a common cultivar in what we now know as the United States of America.
Believe it or not, oaks have expanded to various places in Central America, South America, Africa, etc., as a result of climate changes and natural evolution. Because of the development of several varieties, oak trees can now withstand different climates and conditions to thrive worldwide.
Where We See Oak Trees Today
It’s no secret that oak trees aren’t in low supply in our current society, and you can expect to see them growing and thriving in various parts of the world. Read on to learn more about where oak trees reside and how the climate impacts them.
Oak trees are very common in North America; in fact, they’re most prominent in Canada and the United States. On average, North America experiences relatively mild temperatures, making it one of the most convenient places for oaks to grow and thrive. Even though climates are different from one coast to another, there are oak varieties suitable for most areas in North America.
Central America is yet another home to oak trees. Despite the increasingly tropical weather in this region, some oak tree cultivars, like red oaks, can grow in Central America. Interestingly, most of this area is a tropical rainforest. Therefore, these oak trees grow among other tree species, such as rosewood, ebony, mahogany, cedarwood, etc.
Europe has a relatively mild climate, with cool to warm summers and cold winters. Because this region is more like the original climate and conditions oaks grew in, it’s still a perfect place for extensive oak forests. English oak trees are the most popular cultivar you’ll find in European regions.
Asia is an incredibly large area, and the climate depends on the specific location. For instance, southern Asia is relatively hot, but northern sections can be very cold. Still, east Asia is similar to Europe: temperate and mild. As a result, oak trees are a native species to East Asia.
Now that you know some common places you might find oak trees, you should also learn a little more about the different types. Follow along for the major oak cultivars.
Major Oak Varieties
Here are some of the major oak varieties and a little extra information about each one.
White oaks are the most prominent in North America, and they’re unique because the trees grow both male and female flowers. As a result, they’re self-pollinating trees. White oaks are beautiful, and the wood is great for whiskey barrels: it helps maintain a rich flavor profile.
Red oak trees are common in northern regions, as they prefer cooler climates. Because of their incredibly rapid growth rate, red oaks are an excellent choice for landscaping on a larger scale.
Pin oaks are one of the most popular variety choices for many people. These trees harbor gorgeous green foliage in the summer months and red or bronze leaves in the fall. Interestingly, pin oak leaves and bark may also have helpful medical benefits for colds and work as a bug repellant.
Willow oak trees are beautiful trees with slender leaves, similar to a willow tree. Because of their unique leaf shape, willow oaks are great choices for those who want something different. Additionally, they tolerate various soil and growing conditions, making them relatively low-maintenance trees.
Why We Admire Them
Oak trees have an incredibly long history, leading many people to have a deep admiration for them. Interestingly, oak trees have various symbolisms, including strength, endurance, wisdom, understanding, etc. You’ve probably heard them referred to as mighty oaks, and for good reason. These beautiful trees are incredibly stable and robust, with extensive life spans. Oaks have been around for a long time, but each tree also lives for extended periods. In other words, they live a lot of life—this is why many people associate them with resilience and wisdom.
After learning more about the evolution of oak trees and why we admire them, you might consider purchasing potted oak trees to add to your property. Almost everyone has seen an oak tree in their life; however, they might not believe that these incredible trees start as tiny acorns. But they do, and acorns are the fruit of beloved oak trees. Because they’ll be around for a while, they make great housewarming gifts for new couples. Furthermore, oak trees are great family trees—track your family’s growth and progress with regular pictures in front of your mighty oak tree.