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Sessile oak (SOK)

Quercus petraea

Home Trees Sessile oak (SOK)

Native range

Native to the British Isles and to much of western, central and eastern Europe. In Britain it tends to have a more westerly and upland distribution than pedunculate oak but the natural distribution has been much influenced by plantations in previous centuries.

Provenance Choice

Provenances from selected British or north-west European seed stands are to be preferred.

Site Requirements

Sessile oak is cold hardy and generally windfirm, but can be damaged by late spring frosts. A species of intermediate shade tolerance which can grow well on mineral soils of poor or medium nutrient status. Will tolerate slightly drier soils than pedunculate oak and is not suited to compacted or wet soils.

Pests and Pathogens

Rarely afflicted by oak decline, sessile oak has been found to suffer from Acute Oak Decline which results in rapid dieback and mortality. This has become apparent on mature trees in mid and south east England.

Oak processionary moth, a major defoliator, is a native species of central and southern Europe, where it is widely distributed and is a significant threat. Its range has been expanding northwards, presumably in response to climate change. It is now firmly established in northern France and the Netherlands, and has been reported from southern Sweden, and more recently, colonies of larvae have been found in parts of London.


The greater tolerance of drier soils may result in greater use of this species on suitable sites in eastern Britain under a warming climate.

Sessile oak is categorised as a Principal tree species. These are species which are currently widely used for forestry and will continue to be a dominant unless affected by a new pest or disease or adversely affected by climate change.