Major Oak

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Major Oak in October 2013
The famous Major Oak in October 2012
The Major Oak in December 2006
Plaque recording that in June 2002 the Major Oak was listed as one of fifty Great British Trees

The Major Oak is a large English Oak (Quercus robur) near the village of Edwinstowe in the heart of Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England. According to local folklore, it was Robin Hood's shelter where he and his merry men slept. It weighs an estimated 23 tons, has a girth of 33 feet (10 metres), and is about 800–1000 years old. In a 2002 survey, it was voted “Britain’s favourite tree”.[1] In 2014, it was voted 'England's Tree of the Year' in a public poll run by the Woodland Trust.

It took its present name from Major Hayman Rooke's description of it in 1790.[2]

There are several theories concerning why it became so huge and oddly shaped:

  • The Major Oak may be several trees that fused together when saplings.
  • The tree was possibly pollarded, a system of tree management that enabled foresters to grow more than one crop of timber from a single tree causing the trunk to grow large and thick. However, there is only limited evidence to support this theory as none of the other trees in the surrounding area were pollarded.

Since the Victorian era its massive limbs have been partially supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding.

In February 1998, a local company took cuttings from the Major Oak and began cultivating clones of the famous tree with the intention of sending saplings to be planted in major cities around the world.[citation needed] Also in 1998, a Mansfield resident was cautioned by the Nottinghamshire Police for selling alleged Major Oak acorns (including a certificate of authenticity) to unsuspecting Americans via an Internet-based mail-order company.[citation needed] On 1 October 2002, another news story broke about someone illegally selling acorns from the Major Oak on an Internet-based auction website.[3]

In 2003, in Dorset a plantation was started of 260 saplings grown from acorns of the Major Oak. The purpose was to provide a focal point for an Internet-based study of the Major Oak, its history, photographic record, variation in size and leafing of the saplings, comparison of their DNA, and an eventual public amenity.[4]

The Major Oak was featured on the 2005 television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the Midlands.

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Coordinates: 53°12′16.70″N 1°4′20.80″W / 53.2046389°N 1.0724444°W / 53.2046389; -1.0724444