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1st. QUERCUS ROBUR PEDUNCULata.
specifically distinct; but as we incline to believe them to be only varieties-though highly important as such-we intend to treat of them as follows:
Whose roots descend
Revolving ages flourish and decay,
Yet still immovable it stands, and throws
Its vigorous limbs around, and proudly bears
A mighty canopy of thickest shade.-VIRGIL, Georg. ii. 291.
1st. Quercus Robur pedunculata is readily distinguished in trees separate from others by its robust habits, thick, gnarled, twisted, and more or less horizontally inclined branches. The leaves have comparatively few broad wavy indentations, and are set on a short leaf-stalk (petiole) (Plate I. fig. a), the fruit being situate on long footstalks (peduncles), varying from two to upwards of four inches (fig. b).
This is the typical British oak, the pride of our sailors, when men fought bravely, and did not care to vie with each other as to who should make the most secure skulking-places. The tree,
There grew an aged tree on the green,
This is the tree that seems to be longer lived than any other in Britain, and though it would appear to be the prey of nearly, if not quite, two hundred species of insects, it has still had vigour of constitution to survive them all, and, in many instances, we might point to brave old trees which must have been veterans at the time of the Norman Conquest. Now, however, they are old and staggy, with hollow trunks truly-but what trunks!from forty to fifty feet in circumference, presenting the following picture to us as it did to Spenser:
But now the grey moss marred his rine ;
His honour decay'd, his branches sere.-Shepherd's Calendar.
This indeed is a melancholy sight, like the Stag's Horn Oak by the roadside between Farnham and Woolmer, in the ancient boundary of Alice Holt Forest; yet this has a young tree growing by its side, perhaps one of his own children, which gracefully conceals much of his gaunt nakedness. In the same forest are many old staggy trees, their contorted horn-like branches sticking out in a most picturesque manner from the top and sides of a still leafy head. In these the white owls may still be seen peering out of dark cavernous hollows as they did in Gilbert White's day; and during the summer of 1861 we with pleasure watched their motions, which so minutely agreed with those described by the father of observing naturalists, that we cannot forbear quoting his remarks thereon in his "Natural History of Selborne," a not very distant parish from the Holt, and to which he indeed often refers.
As I have paid particular attention to the manner of life of these birds (the White Owl), during their season of breeding, which lasts the summer through, the following remarks may not be unacceptable. About an hour before sunset (for then the mice begin to run), they sally forth in quest of prey, and hunt all round the hedges of meadows and small enclosures for them, which seem to be their only food. In this irregular country we can stand on an eminence and see them beat the fields over like a setting-dog, and often drop down in the grass or corn. I have minuted these birds with my watch for an hour together, and have found that they return to their nest, the one or the other of them, about once in five minutes; reflecting at the same time on the adroitness that every animal is possessed of as far as regards the wellbeing of itself and offspring.
Notwithstanding the good done by these birds in keeping under mice, all our eloquence could scarcely preserve them from the onslaught of the keeper; they were, however, protected during our pleasant sojourn at the Holt, but we much fear only, after all, to gratify the taste for stuffed birds, a love which is equally fatal to the feathered race (and especially the finest examples thereof), as the hate of the keeper.
But we are digressing sadly, and must return to Quercus Robur pedunculata, and complete our observations thereon with the statement that most, if not all, the nobler examples of oaks in England belong to this form. Selby directs attention to the "Flitton Oak, in Devonshire, of the Sessiliflora variety, supposed to be one thousand years old, and which is thirtythree feet in circumference at one foot from the ground." However, nearly every historical oak is of the pedunculate variety. In the Holt forest are still left some huge examples; the same