Oak Tree Symbolism and Meanings

 10 min read

If we’re talking about the Western world, then the oak tree (Quercus) is the superstar. It’s almost synonymous with Druids. This sacred tree is worshipped by Thor and Zeus (two well-known thundergods), as well as Taranis (the Celtic thundergod), Perun (the Slavic thundergod), and Perkons (the Baltic thunder God).

The oak tree is a national symbol for many countries, such as England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the United States.

The oak tree has long been associated with power and strength, but it also represents peace and harmony.

Oak twigs can be brought into the home as protection from evil, and acorns placed on windowsills act as a reminder to attract luck and ward off lightning. In ancient cultures, the oak was seen as connected to weather deities, specifically those associated with thunder and lightning.

But the oak’s symbolism goes beyond simply physical strength as it’s also a symbol of fertility and abundance, making it a popular choice for weddings and memorials.

Overall, the oak tree’s symbolism reflects its diverse characteristics as an enduring source of life in all its forms.

Symbolism:Sovereignty, rulership, power
Divine Associations:Mars Silvanus (Roman and Celtic), the Green Man (Anglo-Celtic), Perun (Slavic, Baltic), Taara (Estonian, Finnish), Thor (Norse), Donar (Saxon), Taranis (Celtic), Zeus (Greek), Jupiter (Roman)
Astrological Association:Mars
Oak tree acorns
Old Oak tree

About Oak Trees

The oak is a large, diverse genus of trees that comprises more than 450 species. These monoecious trees are deciduous or evergreen and mostly hail from temperate northern climates.

The common oak tree is large and long-lived, native to Europe, the Caucasus, Asia Minor and northern Africa. As a single tree rather than part of a forest, it has a broad head of rugged branches. The leaves are mostly sessile (clustered close together without stalks), shallowly lobed at the edges, and with small Ear-shaped appendages at their base where they attach to the stem.

The flowers are both male and female; males in narrow dangling catkins that release pollen, and females short greenish spikes that will mature into acorns containing the next generation of trees. Neither flower type is very showy or spectacular.”

The fruit of the oak tree, the acorn, is a nut enclosed at its base by a cup-shaped involucre. One to several acorns grows on a thin stalk. The common oak is an abundant tree whose seedlings often invade open grassy areas rather than forests.

The sessile oak is indistinguishable from the common oak except for its large, long-stalked leaves and lack of stalk on its fruits–thus it’s named “sessile”. It loses its leaves yearly and is native to western, central southeastern Europe and Asia Minor.

The holm oak is a large evergreen tree that can grow up to 60ft (18m) in height. It has corrugated bark and ovate-lanceolate leaves, which are leathery, entire or toothed, and shining dark green above with a greyish-green hue beneath. The fruit cup encloses about half of the relatively short acorn.

Although native to the Mediterranean, it has also been cultivated in warmer parts of the British Isles; an example is Cornwall located in the southwest region.

Practical Uses

The word “acer” for the field in Old English comes from Anglo-Saxon origins. The Saxons and others would pasture their livestock, like pigs, cattle, and sheep in the woods to feed on acorns and beech nuts.

This masting (pasturing of livestock) has been an integral part of rural economies where oaks are present since early history. In fact, during the Middle Ages, people estimated the value of woodland by how many pigs it could feed with its mast crop.

Wood pasturing, a process where animals graze on open grassland with trees sparsely scattered throughout, is still practised today in the Iberian Peninsula. With an area of 12,355,000 acres (5 million hectares), it forms the largest continuous forest in western Europe. The primary trees found here are cork oaks and live oaks, spaced about 100-150 feet apart per acre (40-60 Trees per hectare). On average, these produce approximately 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) of acorns each year.

According to research conducted by scientists at Hiroshima University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, Iberian black pigs that feed off the land gain weight rapidly; an adult pig can double its original weight from 154 to 308 pounds (70 -140kg) after consuming just 2½ acres’ worth (1 hectare) of food consisting mostly of grasses mushrooms and acorns.

The outer bark of a cork oak tree can be harvested every 9 years starting from when the tree is 25 years old. Cork is used for wine bottle stoppers, and lower grades are used for insulation and flooring tiles. Cork oak has a lifespan of 150-200 years, and each tree produces enough cork for approximately 4,000 bottle stoppers per harvest.

Acorns were commonly eaten in pre-Classical Greece and are still consumed by many Native American tribes. They can be roasted and ground into flour for bread or made into a beverage, ersatz coffee.

Oaks are mostly planted today in the northern temperate zone as ornamental trees and for timber. The tough, durable wood is highly appreciated. The bark of some species also contains dye and tannins, which can be used in the leather industry.

Natural Healing

Oak bark is traditionally used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery and haemorrhoids. It is also believed to be an effective antidote to poisoning. The tree essence is said to boost energy levels and help manifest our goals.

Folklore, Myth and Symbol of Oak Trees

Oak tree
Oak tree

In Bronze-Age Europe, different cultures associated the oak tree with their weather gods. The main reason for this is that the electrical currents in oak are stronger than other trees, it has a deep tap root, and often oaks grow near subterranean watercourses. Consequently, oaks are more likely to get struck by lightning than any other type of tree.

The oak was regularly seen as a representation of strength and power to ancient sky gods, including the Slavic Perun, Norse Thor, Saxon Donar, and Celtic Taranis.

Most weather gods were significant because of their impacts on agriculture – something that directly related to human survival. Zeus (the Roman Jupiter) is perhaps the most well-known example of an ancient sky god whose symbol was often the oak tree.

The oak has always been known for its agricultural purposes, but it also had deep associations with the war among all cultures throughout ancient times. People would often invoke the oak’s thunder god to use his power of lightning and strike down an enemy.

Additionally, the tough wood was used to build fortifications or battleships. By the 17th and 18th centuries, Europeans utilized oak forests to construct large fleets once more.

Although it might not seem like it at first, the oak tree is quite a caring figure. It provides housing for a lot of species of insects and other invertebrates, as well as many birds and mammals. In addition to this, the list of economic benefits bestowed by the oak seems endless. Given all of this, it’s no surprise that ancient Gauls and Romans associated the oak with Mars Silvanus – the god of agriculture and healing.

Though the oak had always been a gentle and helpful presence on the farm, it was later forced to become a warrior by the god Mars. Over time, the cultural history of oaks reflects this change from being symbols of peace to signs of war.

For example, in Great Britain and Germany, Silvanus later appeared as the Green Man or Herne the Hunter. Two important oak-related figures from legends are King Arthur–who gathered his knights around a Round Table made of oak–and Robin Hood, who lived among Sherwood Forest’s oaks. Both King Arthur and Robin Hood show both sides of oak lore: the kind fatherly qualities as well as being able to fight fiercely when justice requires it.

Over-emphasis on the importance of oak trees in ancient cult practices has been common over the past few centuries. In fact, during the Middle Ages, European translators often referred to every significant tree as an “oak,” just as they called every red fruit an “apple.” Therefore, when reading Biblical references to “oaks,” it is important to understand them instead of referring generally to sacred trees.

The “acorns of Zeus” were not just referring to the live oak’s sweet acorns, ancient Greeks also relied on them for other purposes, such as walnuts and sweet chestnuts. Sometimes the oak was difficult to find because Roman writers often confused “drys”, the Greek word for oak with “drus”, which means “sacred tree”. The closeness of these words suggests a possible connection between prehistoric times  and divinities

The outdated cliché linking Celtic druids with oak trees originated from Pliny the Elder (23–79 CE), a Roman military commander and administrator who wrote books on natural history. He invented the image of Gaulish druids cutting mistletoe from oaks using golden sickles, although he was not present in Gaul at the time and had only heard secondhand reports of this practice.

Even though he knew this wasn’t the case, Pliny stated that it occurred throughout Gaul. He was aware that tribes such as the Averni (Alder People) or Eburoni (Yew People) held different trees sacred, but he chose to ignore this fact. Additionally, Pliny suggested that the word “druid” may have derived from the Greek drys – which is inaccurate.

Oak Tree Meanings

Oak tree acorns
Oak tree acorns


Oak leaves have long been associated with war, and the tree itself is often seen as a symbol of strength and power. In many cultures, oak trees are thought to be magical entities with special abilities.

For example, the Greeks believed that oak trees were connected to Mars, the god of war. Furthermore, many thunder gods from different countries were also said to be associated with oak trees.

Considering all of these factors, it should not be surprising that some people believe that oak trees can help them achieve victory in battle.


Oak is one of homoeopathic pioneer Edward Bach’s original thirty-eight flower essences that are still recognized today.

If you feel exhausted and overworked, oak essence may be recommended for you to help manage your responsibilities more sustainably, as opposed to coffee which would provide an artificial boost of energy that does not address the root issue.

Oak flower essence is recommended for those who are recovering from long-term health issues, as it provides a sustained quality of energy that strengthens immunity and expedites healing.

The oak tree has been traditionally associated with the qualities of strength, thunder, lightning, masculinity, victory, divinity, and power.


Oak is often chosen by magical practitioners for magic related to wealth and prosperity. This might be because, in earlier centuries, acorns were a common food source.

While some people still cook with them as a survival tactic, the majority of us are turned off by the hassle of removing tannins that make the nut inedible.


Dodona, the Greek oracle which is the oldest of its kind and was originally dedicated to the Mother Goddess Gaia before it was taken over by Zeus, depending on the noise made by wind passing through oak trees to communicate messages from the gods to Priestesses and Priests.


The Green Man is a deity revered by many modern pagans. Generally regarded as a symbol of masculine divinity, he is typically depicted in art with a face made of oak leaves.

The Green Man chiefly represents rebirth and the feral spirit of nature, but he also emphasizes the physical healing properties of plants and herbs. Not to mention, spending time in green natural settings can be emotionally therapeutic too.

Currently, we have a terrifyingly uncertain relationship with the environment, so the thought of a healthy forest or woodland is especially comforting.


The oak tree is a symbol of strength, stability, and endurance. It has been revered throughout history for its beauty and stateliness. Today, the oak tree still stands as a powerful symbol of all that is good.

If you are looking for a strong and reliable friend, look no further than the Oak Tree.