The Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) which is often alternatively called Turkish Oak, is an oak native to southern Europe and Asia Minor. It is the type species of Quercus sect. Cerris, a section of the genus characterised by shoot buds surrounded by soft bristles, bristle-tipped leaf lobes, and acorns that usually mature in 18 months.
It is a large deciduous tree growing to 25-40 m tall with a trunk up to 2 m diameter. The bark is dark grey and deeply furrowed. The glossy leaves are 7-14 cm long and 3-5 cm wide, with 6-12 triangular lobes on each side; the regularity of the lobing varies greatly, with some trees having very regular lobes, others much less regular.
The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins, maturing about 18 months after pollination; the fruit is a large acorn, 2.5-4 cm long and 2 cm broad, bicoloured with an orange basal half grading to a green-brown tip; the acorn cup is 2 cm deep, densely covered in soft 4-8 mm long 'mossy' bristles. The acorns are very bitter, but are eaten by jays and pigeons; squirrels usually only eat them when other food sources have run out.
Turkey Oak is widely planted and is naturalised in much of Europe. This is partly for its relatively fast growth. It is used as an ornamental, and as a coastal windbreak. The wood has many of the characteristics of other oaks, but is very prone to crack and split and hence is relegated to such uses as fencing. Several cultivars have been selected, including 'Variegata', a variegated cultivar, and 'Woden', with large, deeply-lobed leaves.
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