Quercus frainetto Ten.

(Quercus conferta Kit, Q. hungarica Hubeny ex Rochel, Q. esculiformis O. Schwarz)

This is a deciduous oak species that grows up to 35 m in height. It forms extensive pure or mixed forests that occupy almost one third of all Greek forests and 80% of the deciduous oak forests. It is found growing in semi-mountainous areas of mainland Greece from the Peloponnese to N Greece and Thrace.

Q. frainetto is the most valuable and important oak species in Greece, due to the surface area its ecosystems cover and its valuable wood used for both firewood and furniture. Its bulky wood being pale-coloured, lustrous, with many flecks (medulla rays), in combination with its strength and durability, make it valuable for parquetry and furniture. The acorns are also valuable as they make an excellent food for pigs, and the taxon’s foliage is an important animal foodstuff, especially for goats. Q. frainetto ecosystems are found on limestone, siliceous and serpentine substrates. They mainly grow on heavy clay soils and red clays that are unsuitable for cultivation, and this is probably the reason why these ecosystems have undergone less clearings that other oak forests.

In the past, like all broadleaved oak ecosystems, Q. frainetto forests have undergone intensive exploitation with excessive tree felling, coppicing and overgrazing, resulting in many to appear in degraded or shrub form. The regulation of tree felling, and mostly reduction in grazing by goats and sheep, has allowed these ecosystems to regenerate naturally. As a result we now see spectacular ecosystems with oak in the canopy and Carpinus orientalis and other species in the understorey and mid-layer.

Ecosystems of this type are presently found in various levels of degradation and therefore have various growth capacities. All these forests are managed as coppice, which aims to mostly produce firewood. However, as this species produces good quality wood when it grows on good sites, management should be converted into seed germination form using tissue culture and extending its growth time.

 

The distribution of Q. frainetto in Greece can be seen in Map 2.