OAK TREES

Although oak trees, many of them English Oak, can be found in a number of South African towns, they are not indigenous to this country but originate from the early European settlers, who tended to plant what they were familiar with. It is believed that many of the oaks in parts of the Western Cape probably originate from trees imported by the Dutch East India Company as a source of wood for the manufacture of wine casks.

Under the right climatic circumstances, oaks have a life expectancy of between 300 – 600 years and so it is not surprising to find mature oaks still growing in a number of the older towns and cities in this country. Our little town, established as a military post in 1812, still has a number of streets lined with oak trees – what stories they could tell of the changes that have taken place over the past two centuries!

Here a group of schoolgirls is inspecting a relatively young oak tree growing next to the tennis courts on their campus.

Not all of the oak trees are old – saplings abound, many of which have been left to grow into mature trees. There are even the odd oak trees growing next to the roads, possibly remnants of deliberately planted trees or ‘escapees’ that found favour in the soil. We are used to the presence of oaks and love them for what they are.

The Urban Herd, which regular readers will be familiar with by now, continue to wander through the suburbs at will – munching on the grass verges, as well as any flowers, shrubs or leafy plants they can reach. I watched some of them doing just that and was surprised by the odd loud crunching noises, until I realised they were eating the acorns that had fallen onto the pavement! A little further on, I spotted this bull – which we have dubbed ‘The New Year Bull’ – reaching up to pull clusters of acorns from the trees.

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23 thoughts on “OAK TREES

  1. While looking back for posts about “the urban herd” (strange concept!), I found two wonderful photographs of ox-peckers scrounging in the ears of big creatures (2/27/2016). Very strange sights in your wondrous world!

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    • I call them ‘the Urban Herd’ because cattle do not belong in the suburbs of towns or cities, yet this recognisable herd of cows, calves and bulls roam freely through the urban areas. They belong to someone and should be grazing on the common which fringes the town. These animals are surrounded by Cattle Egrets. The ox-peckers you refer to are mostly observed in game reserves and in the northern part of the country.

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  2. I was curious and did some searching and found in India ‘oak trees generally occur in the temperate areas of the Himalaya’ and also that ‘oak forests are being invaded by pine forests due to the increase in temperature’
    Lovely photographs.

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    • Interesting information. I imagine ‘your’ oak trees were also planted by early European arrivals. There is something wonderful about them though – their age perhaps – that makes them feel as though they belong instead of being regarded simply as aliens.

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    • Thank you. I find it fascinating to explore the ‘footprints’ of those who have gone before us – whether they be in the form of old buildings, shards of pottery or even the plants. These are all clues to our collective history in an area.

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