The bark is a rich source of tannin. Oak galls are excrescences that are sometimes produced in great numbers on the tree and are caused by the activity of the larvae of different insects. The insects live inside these galls, obtaining their nutrient therein. When the insect pupates and leaves, the gall can be used as a rich source of tannin, that can also be used as a dyestuff. A brown dye is obtained from the bark or from the galls, it does not require a mordant. Yellow, chrome and gold can also be obtained if mordants are used.Wood - strong, very heavy, hard, tough, close grained, durable. It weighs about 46lb per cubic foot. One of the most important timbers in N. America, it is used for cabinet making, construction, agricultural tools etc, and is also a good fuel. Highly valued for making the staves of barrels for storing wine and liquor.
The inner bark contains 6 - 11% tannin, it has powerful antiseptic and astringent properties and is also expectorant and tonic. The bark is boiled and the liquid drunk in the treatment of bleeding piles and diarrhoea, intermittent fevers, coughs and colds, consumption, asthma, lost voice etc. The bark has been chewed as a treatment for mouth sores. Externally, it is used as a wash for skin eruptions, burns, rashes, bruises, ulcers etc and as a vaginal douche. It has also been used as a wash for muscular pains. The bark is best collected in the spring.Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of haemorrhages, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery etc.
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The white oak prefers warmer summers than are usually experienced in Britain, trees often grow poorly in this country and fail to properly ripen their wood resulting in frost damage over the winter. There are, however, a number of trees 20 metres tall in Britain, mainly in the south-east of the country. Sometimes cultivated for its edible seed, there are some named varieties. Trees take about 30 years before they start to bear good crops of seed, they then have heavy crops about every 3 years with light crops in the other years. They continue to yield commercial crops for about 120 years. The tree flowers on new growth produced in spring, the seed ripening in its first year. Intolerant of root disturbance, trees should be planted in their permanent positions whilst young, though they may require protection for the first winter or two. Hybridizes freely with other members of the genus.Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
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