“Quercus” is the Latin word for oak. In Europe, during the last Ice Age, the oaks have been confined to three areas: Spain, Italy and the Balkans. After this period, oaks have spread across the European continent.
The oak is a majestic tree that can reach up to fifty meters high. It grows in deep and wet soils, near the riverbanks and can withstand flooding. The fruit of the oak is the acorn, formed by a dome of scales that surrounds the base of the nut.
Some nations consider the oak as a sacred tree. Symbolically, the tree represents solidity and strength (both physical and moral strength), but also power, longevity and spiritual elevation.
- For the Romans the oak branch was the symbol of virtue, strength, courage, dignity and perseverance. It has always been also the symbol of virility and military value.
- The oak was the sacred tree of many gods: Jupiter in Rome, the Baltic god Perkunas, Zeus (father of all the gods) and Dodona in Greece, Donar and Ziu among the Germanics (corresponding to the Norse Thor and Odin).
The cudgel of Hercules was made of oak, and Ulysses (in the Odyssey) consults the “divine foliage of the great oak of Zeus” twice. Moreover, according to a magical belief, a branch of this tree, placed near a wellspring in Arcadia, defeated the drought.
- For the Celts the oak was the emblem of hospitality