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Turkey Oak

Quercus cerris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fagaceae (Beech)
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 metres tall
Gardens, grassland, heathland, hedgerows, parks, roadsides, woodland.

Green, no petals
Hanging yellowish-green male catkins, up to 8cm. Red and green short female flower spikes eventually form acorns. 4 styles.
The unstalked acorns sit inside characteristic furry cups making this tree readily identifiable while in fruit.
A deciduous tree. The dark green leaves are stalked and unevenly lobed. The lobes are deeper and more pointed than the ones of English and Sessile Oak. Also, the tips of the leaf lobes are bristle-tipped.
The fragrance of Turkey Oak is characterized by a subtle blend of earthy and woody notes. It emanates a distinct aroma with hints of damp soil, moss, and a rich, warm woodiness. The scent is often described as robust and natural, capturing the essence of the forest environment where Turkey Oak trees thrive.
Other Names:
Austrian Oak, Cerris Oak, European Turkey Oak, Moss-cupped Oak, Mossy Cup Oak, Mossy Oak, Wainscot Oak.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Quercus cerris, also known as the Turkey oak or Cerris oak, is a species of deciduous tree in the Fagaceae family. It is native to southern Europe, western Asia and north Africa, and is widely cultivated in many parts of the world. The tree can grow up to 30 meters tall and has a broad, spreading crown. The leaves are lobed, have a glossy green upper surface and a pale underside. The tree produces small, greenish-yellow flowers in the spring and acorns in the fall. The acorns are an important food source for wildlife. The tree is known for its hardiness and durability, which makes it a valuable timber species. The wood is used for furniture, flooring and construction. The tree is also used in landscaping and as a shade tree.


The Turkey Oak, scientifically known as Quercus cerris, is a majestic tree that belongs to the Fagaceae family. It is native to southern Europe and western Asia and has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America.

One of the most striking features of the Turkey Oak is its size. It can grow up to 30 meters tall and have a trunk diameter of up to 1.5 meters. The tree has a broad, spreading crown, which provides ample shade during the hot summer months.

The Turkey Oak is an attractive tree with a distinct appearance. Its leaves are glossy and leathery and have a unique shape, which is somewhat similar to that of the leaves of the English oak (Quercus robur). The leaves of the Turkey Oak are dark green and have a distinct wavy margin. They are also deeply lobed, with three to five lobes on each side.

The Turkey Oak is a deciduous tree that sheds its leaves in the autumn. Before the leaves fall, they turn a beautiful yellow-brown color, adding to the tree's ornamental value. In the winter, the tree's gray-brown bark provides a striking contrast against the white snow.

The Turkey Oak is a hardy tree that can grow in a variety of soils, from sandy to clayey. It prefers well-drained soil but can tolerate occasional flooding. The tree is also tolerant of drought, making it an ideal tree for dry regions.

The Turkey Oak is a valuable tree for wildlife. Its acorns provide food for a variety of animals, including deer, squirrels, and birds. The tree also provides habitat for a variety of insects, which in turn attract other animals that feed on them.

The wood of the Turkey Oak is hard and durable and is used for a variety of purposes, including flooring, furniture, and fence posts. The tree is also used in landscaping and as a shade tree in parks and gardens.

The Turkey Oak is an important tree for conservation efforts. It is classified as a "least concern" species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which means that it is not at immediate risk of extinction. However, the tree's habitat is under threat from deforestation, urbanization, and the expansion of agricultural land. Therefore, conservation efforts are necessary to protect the Turkey Oak and its ecosystem.

The Turkey Oak has a rich cultural and historical significance in Europe. In ancient Greek and Roman times, the acorns of the Turkey Oak were used as food for people and animals. The tree was also believed to have medicinal properties and was used to treat various ailments. In medieval times, the wood of the Turkey Oak was used to make weapons and shipbuilding.

The Turkey Oak is also a valuable tree for reforestation and ecological restoration. It is used in forest restoration projects to improve soil fertility, control erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife. The tree's deep roots help to improve soil structure and prevent soil erosion.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Turkey Oak is its hybridization with other oak species. The tree can hybridize with the English oak, the Sessile oak, and the Hungarian oak to produce hybrid oaks with unique characteristics. These hybrid oaks are often used in forestry and landscaping.

The Turkey Oak is also known for its tolerance to air pollution and drought. This makes it a suitable tree for urban areas, as it can help to improve air quality and reduce the effects of urban heat islands. The tree's broad canopy provides shade, which helps to reduce the temperature of the surrounding environment.

Another interesting fact about the Turkey Oak is that it has been used in the production of wine barrels. The wood of the tree is prized for its ability to impart a distinctive flavor to wine. This is because the wood has a high tannin content, which helps to preserve the wine and give it a unique taste.

The Turkey Oak is also an important tree for scientific research. It has been studied extensively for its genetics and hybridization, as well as its ecology and interactions with other species. Researchers are interested in the tree's ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, as well as its potential for use in the production of biofuels.

The Turkey Oak is an attractive tree for landscaping. It has a majestic appearance and provides ample shade, making it an ideal tree for parks, gardens, and residential landscapes. Its distinctive leaves and bark add visual interest to any landscape design.

One of the lesser-known values of the Turkey Oak is its potential for use in the production of honey. The tree's flowers provide nectar for bees, which produce a distinct honey that is prized for its flavor and medicinal properties. In fact, Turkey Oak honey is a traditional remedy for respiratory ailments, such as bronchitis and asthma.

The Turkey Oak also has a fascinating relationship with a species of wasp called the gall wasp. The gall wasp lays its eggs in the Turkey Oak's buds, which causes the tree to produce a small, round structure called a gall. The gall provides protection and food for the developing wasp larvae. While this may seem like a harmful interaction, it is actually a natural part of the tree's ecosystem and does not harm the tree.

The Turkey Oak is also a popular tree for bonsai enthusiasts. Its small leaves and gnarled branches make it an ideal candidate for bonsai cultivation. Bonsai cultivation involves carefully pruning and shaping the tree to create a miniature version of a full-grown tree.

Finally, the Turkey Oak has an important role in traditional medicine. Its bark, leaves, and acorns have been used in folk remedies for centuries. The tree is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent properties, which make it useful for treating a variety of conditions, including diarrhea, skin rashes, and wounds.

In summary, the Turkey Oak is a fascinating tree with many interesting values and uses. Its potential for use in the production of honey, its relationship with the gall wasp, and its popularity among bonsai enthusiasts are just a few examples of its unique characteristics. Its traditional medicinal uses and potential for use in the production of biofuels add to its value as an important tree for human and environmental well-being.

30 Turkey Oak Facts

  1. Scientific Name: The Turkey Oak is scientifically known as Quercus cerris.

  2. Geographic Range: Native to Southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, Turkey Oaks are found in countries like Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the Balkan Peninsula.

  3. Deciduous Tree: It is a deciduous tree, meaning it sheds its leaves annually in the autumn.

  4. Size: Turkey Oaks are medium to large-sized trees, reaching heights of up to 25-35 meters (82-115 feet).

  5. Leaves: The leaves of the Turkey Oak are distinctive, featuring deep lobes and a glossy, dark green color.

  6. Acorns: Like many oaks, Turkey Oaks produce acorns. These are typically small and are an important food source for wildlife.

  7. Bark: The bark is dark gray and develops deep fissures as the tree matures.

  8. Wood Quality: The wood of Turkey Oak is durable and has been historically used for various purposes, including construction and furniture making.

  9. Hybridization: It can hybridize with other oak species, creating hybrids with unique characteristics.

  10. Wildlife Habitat: Turkey Oaks provide habitat and food for various wildlife, including birds, insects, and mammals.

  11. Drought Tolerance: These trees are known for their tolerance to drought conditions once established.

  12. Fire-Resistant: The thick bark of Turkey Oak contributes to its fire resistance, a trait not uncommon in oak species.

  13. Cultural Significance: In some regions, Turkey Oak has cultural importance, with folklore and traditional uses associated with the tree.

  14. Invasive Potential: In certain areas, Turkey Oak can become invasive, outcompeting native vegetation.

  15. Growth Rate: The tree has a moderate to fast growth rate, especially when young.

  16. Soil Preference: Turkey Oaks are adaptable to various soil types but prefer well-drained soils.

  17. Leaf Litter: The fallen leaves decompose relatively slowly, contributing to the forest floor's organic matter.

  18. Shade Tolerance: Young Turkey Oaks exhibit good shade tolerance, enabling them to grow in the understory before reaching maturity.

  19. Tannins: The wood and leaves contain tannins, contributing to their resistance to decay and insect damage.

  20. Wildland Urban Interface Plant: In some regions, Turkey Oak is considered a valuable species in the wildland-urban interface due to its fire resistance.

  21. Leaf Variation: There can be considerable variation in the shape and size of leaves within the species.

  22. Propagation: Turkey Oak can be propagated from acorns, and young trees are often used in reforestation efforts.

  23. Lifespan: These trees can live for several hundred years under favorable conditions.

  24. Leaf Color Change: The leaves turn various shades of brown in the autumn before falling.

  25. Allergenic Potential: Like many oaks, Turkey Oak pollen has the potential to cause allergies in some individuals.

  26. Ecological Importance: Turkey Oaks play a crucial role in forest ecosystems, contributing to nutrient cycling and biodiversity.

  27. Coppicing: The tree is capable of coppicing, a traditional practice of cutting back to stimulate new growth.

  28. Silviculture: Turkey Oak is a species of interest in silviculture, the management of forest ecosystems.

  29. Historical Uses: Historically, the wood was used for shipbuilding and as timber for various construction purposes.

  30. Conservation: In certain areas, conservation efforts focus on preserving Turkey Oak populations due to their ecological significance.


Turkey Oak filmed on the 2nd and 11th July 2023 around the Chorley area of Lancashire.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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