The Quercus Collection provides a highly valued aesthetic within Melbourne Gardens. Revered for thousands of years in their countries of origin, oaks symbolise strength, endurance and wisdom. On a practical level, oaks have contributed a great many products for use in society - including for shelter, transport, food, medicine and industry. They are the keystone species in many ecosystems, supporting a plethora of birds, mammals and insects. While growing throughout the Gardens, many of the older, larger oaks are on Oak Lawn.
- Oak seeds - acorns - are not able to be stored in conventional seed banks because the seed quickly looses its ability to germinate. For this reason, Living Collections, like the Quercus collection at Melbourne Gardens, are important resources for plant conservation. Think of the Oak Lawn as a giant outdoor seed bank that is preserving these species in Australia. This living collection is important for research and conservation of this genus.
- Oaks are considered Keystone Species in many of the worlds ecosystems.
- Around 40% of the worlds oaks are classified as conservation concern. Major threats to oak species globally include land use change, changing climate, and native and non-native pests and diseases. Landscape level changes are often due to habitat conversion for agriculture or unbanisation, logging, or alteration to fire regimes.
Quercus aff. alba
This species is native to Portugal and the western Mediterranean, and located in the Childrens Garden. The bark of the Cork Oak has provided us with many products - cork flooring, building and industrial insulation, engine seals, heat shields for the Space Shuttle and of course wine bottle corks.
Notes from the Curator
I am constantly astonished at the rich history and relationships that have developed between many human societies and oaks over the course of history. The rich folklore that is associated with oaks is very interesting and is derived from the important role that many oak products have played in human history.
The importance of the relationship between oaks and animals and other organisms all over the northern hemisphere cannot be overstated - oaks provide food and shelter for innumerable species around the world. Oaks are fascinating and important trees and our Collection has some beautiful examples.