Wednesday 9 February 2022

Le Chêne des Ajoncs

On Monday we went on one of our regular walks, and because of a fortuitous wrong turn we discovered something we may never otherwise have heard about.

In the middle of a parcel of forest just north of le Louroux there is a clearing containing two large trees. One is an Atlantic Cedar, a tree popular in ornamental plantings, and an enormous oak. The oak tree is called "Le Chêne des Ajoncs" and it spans 32 metres, is 30 metres high and is 7.50 metres in circumference at 1.30 metres from the ground. These are the measurements that were used to age it at between 500 and 600 years old. Apparently it is a hybrid between an English (Pendunculate) and an Irish (Sessile) Oak Quercus robur x Q. petraea. (This is such a common hybrid that it even has it's own scientific name -- Quercus x rosacea and many old forests are dominated by this hybrid.)

It takes 11 people to wrap their arms around the oak.

Les Ajoncs (the Gorse) appears on the Carte de l'Etat-Major (1820-1866) as a number of buildings and ornamental garden, and on the recent IGN map as a building. On the ground we saw no sign of any buildings, but it has to be said we didn't actually look as we were too interested in the trees. We may have to return and investigate buildings and the gardens.

"Ce n'est pas le plus gros et le plus vieux mais sans aucun doute le plus beau chêne de Touraine, celui qui, tout en ayant un des plus gros troncs, est le plus régulier, le plus sain et le plus apte à nous rendre humblissimes devant son impressionnante stature !" (extract from the book Arbres remarquables en Touraine).

"It is neither the biggest nor the oldest but without doubt it is the most beautiful oak tree in Touraine. With its massive trunk and regular features, it is the healthiest and the one most likely to make us feel very humble in the face of such grandeur!"


chm said...

How did an offspring of English and Irish parents come to grow in Touraine?

Susan said...

chm: 'English' and 'Irish' are nonsense names for these oak species. They occur all over western Europe, and usually one or other of them is the dominant species in the forests of the region. They are better referred to as Pendunculate and Sessile oaks. And they have a bunch of other vernacular names too.

chm said...

Thank you Susan. So if I understand correctly, they’re both French Oaks. Lol!

Carolyn said...

We like to track down old trees wherever we go, and I have to say that many of them are no longer in good shape, having suffered a lot of damage over the years. "Still hanging on" is the best that can be said for most of them, but your oak is very shapely. I'll put that in my "encyclopedia" for our next trip to that area.

Susan said...

chm: Exactly!

Carolyn: Let us know when you want to visit it and we'll go with you. Very good restaurant in the old Priory barn in Le Louroux, btw :-)

Carolyn said...

It's a deal!

Susan said...

Carolyn: Great! See you then :-)

Katie Zeller said...

What a lucky wrong turn!
We have one near us - fabulous tree

Susan said...

Katie: Nice!

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