The name Quercus comes from the Celtic, quer meaning "fine," and cuez meaning "tree." Historically, the Celtic religion as well as that of other cultures venerated old oak trees, using them as a focus for spiritual rituals. The Druids believed the oak to be a sacred tree, the symbol of their religion, and potent source of wisdom. The ancient Greeks believed the rustling leaves of a sacred oak to be oracles from Zeus. In Allonville, France, an oak 44.3 ft (13.5 m) in circumference was consecrated as a Roman Catholic church in 1696 and the chapel built into the canopy can hold 5-10 worshippers. Since many oaks live for over 300 years, their longevity and durability became the subject of literary metaphors and the trees serve as reminders of many historic events. The oldest documented oak lived for 950 years in Switzerland.
When William Penn landed in 1682, the Holly Halls white oak stood tall near Elkton, Maryland. Recently threatened by development, it has been afforded protection by the city and still remains. A bur oak (Q. macrocarpa), known as the Council Oak, standing in Sioux City, Iowa shaded Lewis and Clark as they met with the natives. Longfellow's famous poem "Evangeline" includes reference to a live oak (Q. virginiana) still standing as a historic landmark in St. Martinville, Louisiana. The Jack London Oak (Q. agrifolia) was planted near the Oakland (California) City Hall after the author died. The oak tree first visited by Spanish explorer Vizcaino in 1602 and the site of the first mass held by Father Serra in Monterey, California, in 1770 finally died and was replaced by a monument in 1896. The Oak of Peace still standing in Glendale, California, was the site of the meeting between General Andres Pico and Colonel John C. Fremont that ended the War with Mexico in 1847. Species of oak are the state trees of Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
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