Kew Gardens' Important Trees: Chestnut-leaved Oak - Quercus castaneifolia
Created | Updated Jun 29, 2014
Overview | English Oak | Chestnut-leaved Oak | Holm Oak | The Lucombe Oak | Turner's Oak | Indian Horse Chestnut | Sweet Chestnut | Corsican Pine | Stone Pine | North American Tulip Tree | Caucasian Elm | False Acacia | Maidenhair Tree | Oriental Plane | Pagoda Tree
The chestnut-leaved oak is one of the Heritage trees of Kew Gardens and is a very rare plant in the UK, having first been introduced from the Caucasus and Iran as seed in 1843. The Kew specimen is behind the Water Lily House by the famous Palm House, and was planted in 1846, probably from one of the first batch of seeds to arrive in the UK. At that time there was a new 45-acre area that needed planting, which was done in a very arbitrary manner, hence its location. Due to its age, 30-metre height and spread, the Kew chestnut-leaved oak is unrivalled, being the finest and biggest specimen in the world. It is also the largest and fastest growing tree at Kew, and is accordingly a true champion of the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI). One interesting fact is that where other trees such as the Turner oak were damaged or even destroyed in the great storm of 1987, this tree escaped unscathed, not even losing a branch. Incredible.
The chestnut-leaved oak can reach heights of 35 metres, with a girth of 2.5 metres. However it is the leaves that are distinctive, being up to 20 cm long, and serrated, with triangular lobes on each side; they are very similar to the leaves of a sweet chestnut tree. They turn from green through a deep bronze to brown before falling. The acorns are slow-growing, taking around 18 months to mature, and are very large, typically 2.5cm long and 1.5cm broad.