The magnificent daimyo oak - The Heart of England Forest


While the main focus of the Heart of England Forest is to plant native broadleaf trees, there are many other hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, such as the daimyo oak.

Close up of Daimyo Oak leaves

Find the daimyo oak in the Arboretum

The magnificent daimyo oak from the Far East can be found in the Heart of England Forest’s Arboretum in Dorsington, where visitors can wander through an enormous variety of trees from around the globe.

Since the Heart of England Forest’s founder, the late Felix Dennis, began planting the Arboretum in 1992, it has become home to numerous species and continues to grow yearly. Many are trees whose future may be endangered.

The daimyo oak is on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, so the Arboretum is helping to ensure its survival.

Behold the emperor

Also known as the Japanese emperor oak, the species is native to the land of the rising sun and can also be found in Korea and China. ‘Daimyo’ refers to the feudal lords who ruled Japan for centuries. In English the name is often translated to ‘sweet oak’ to distinguish it from Western oak species.

Growing to a height of between eight and 15 metres, the daimyo oak has a spherical, half-open crown and a trunk of up to one metre in diameter. The dark green oval-shaped leaves are yellow during the autumn months. The bark is dark grey and rough, developing deep grooves as it ages. Bundles of acorns appear during fruiting season from September to October, while in spring the daimyo oak produces gold-coloured male catkins.

More than meets the eye – or ear!

The daimyo oak was introduced to the British Isles in 1830. Although popular in botanical gardens, it tends to grow smaller in cultivation than in the wild. While it is primarily seen as a decorative species here, this Japanese oak has multiple uses in its Far Eastern homelands.

Used in the manufacture of drums, it is thought that the higher density of the oak gives them a brighter and louder tone compared to traditional drum materials such as maple and birch.

In Korean cuisine, the acorns of the daimyo oak are used to make acorn jelly, or dotori-muk. A rich source of starch and proteins, this is usually mixed with other ingredients as a side dish. In Japan the leaves of the daimyo oak are used as wrapping for rice cakes, or mocha, that are traditionally served on Japanese New Year.

Find the daimyo oak

Visitors following the Dorsington Wood waymarked trail will come to the Arboretum where they can seek out the daimyo oak.

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