Block of the Week: Dark Oak Wood
Shiver me timbers!
In most parts of the Western world, the spookiest night of the year is 31 October – Halloween. That’s when ghosts, ghouls, skeletons, zombies and other dark forces can be seen on the streets, knocking on doors and demanding candy.
But in Sweden – where Minecraft is made – things are a little different. Here, it’s Easter when the witches come out. The påskkärringar, as they’re called in Swedish, go door to door in the neighbourhood – armed with a broomstick and kettle which they fill with treats in exchange for paintings and drawings, before flying off to the fictional island of Blockula (Blåkulla in Swedish) in the Baltic Sea.
So in honour of Sweden’s spooOOooky Easter traditions, our block of this week is the spooOOooookiest wood in Minecraft. It’s dark oak!
Dark oak wood was first added to Minecraft in version 1.7.2 of the game, at the same time as acacia. It generates naturally in one biome only – the dense, dark roofed forest. In this biome, trees grow so closely together that it’s often dark enough for hostile mobs to spawn during the day.
Dark oak trees have much thicker trunks than most other trees – they’re 2x2 blocks, and come with craggy branches below the canopy of leaves. Dark oaks are not as easy to farm as other trees – they require four saplings arranged in a 2x2 grid, and won’t grow if planted individually. But on the bright side, they do tend to grow faster than other trees.
That’s probably why the illagers chose dark oak as one of the key building materials for the spooky woodland mansions – which are also only found in roofed forest biomes. These enormous, rare structures – which contain a strange selection of odd and creepy rooms – are the only place in the game where you can obtain a Totem of Undying.
The closest thing we have to dark oak wood in the real world is probably the wood of Quercus velutina, the eastern black oak – which grows all across the eastern United States – from Maine to Texas. Its bark is dark-coloured, as you might expect from the name, but it also contains a pigment called quercitron which was used widely to dye things yellow before modern chemical dyes came along.
That means that if you want to build your own replica woodland mansion in the real world – and why wouldn’t you? – then you’re going to want to go buy yourself some woodland in the eastern United States. Just be careful, you don’t know what dangers are lurking in those woods...