Quercus ilex

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Quercus ilex
Quercus ilex rotundifolia.jpg
Quercus ilex, Extremadura, Spain
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fagales
Family: Fagaceae
Genus: Quercus
Subgenus: Quercus subg. Quercus
Section: Quercus sect. Cerris
Species:
Q. ilex
Binomial name
Quercus ilex
L.
Quercus ilex range.svg
Subspecies' distribution: Q. ilex ilex (green), Q. ilex rotundifolia (rose)

Quercus ilex, the evergreen oak, [1] holly oak [2] or holm oak, is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region. It takes its name from holm, an ancient name for holly. [3] It is a member of the Cerris section of the genus, [4] with acorns that mature in a single summer.

Contents

The first trees to be grown from acorns in England are still to be found within the stately grounds of Mamhead Park, Devon. From Britton & Brayley The Beauties of England and Wales (1803):

"The woods and plantations of Mamhead are numerous and extensive. Many of them were introduced by Mr Thomas Balle (sic), the last of that family who, on returning from the continent brought with him a quantity of cork, ilex, wainscot, oak; Spanish chestnut, acacia, and other species of exotic trees." [5]

Etymology

The resemblance of the foliage to that of the common European holly, Ilex aquifolium, has led to its common and botanic names. The name ilex was originally the classical Latin name for the holm oak, but later adopted as a botanical genus name for the hollies.

Description

An evergreen tree of large size, attaining in favourable places a height of 2128 m, and developing in open situations a huge head of densely leafy branches as much across, the terminal portions of the branches usually pendulous in old trees. The trunk is sometimes over 6 m in girth. The young shoots are clothed with a close grey felt. The leaves are very variable in shape, most frequently narrowly oval or ovate-lanceolate, 48 cm long, 1.22.5 cm wide, rounded or broadly tapered at the base, pointed, the margins sometimes entire, sometimes (especially on young trees) more or less remotely toothed. When quite young, both surfaces are clothed with whitish down, which soon falls away entirely from the upper surface leaving it a dark glossy green; on the lower surface it turns grey or tawny, and persists until the fall of the leaf; the petiole is 316 mm long. Fruits are produced one to three together on a short downy stalk, ripening the first season; the acorns usually 1218 mm long in the UK, the cups with appressed, downy scales. [6]

Subspecies

There are two subspecies:

Ecology

Holm oak grows in pure stands or mixed forest in the Mediterranean and often at low or moderate elevations. One of the plant associations in which holm oak is found is the holm oak/Atlas cedar forests of the Atlas Mountains. In Morocco, some of these mixed forests are habitat to the endangered primate, Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus . [7]

Holm oak is prevalent from Portugal to Greece along the northern Mediterranean coastal belt, and from Morocco to Tunisia along the southern Mediterranean coast.

Holm oak is damaging biodiversity in the United Kingdom and is listed as an alien invader. Normally the tree is unable to withstand severe frost, which would prevent it from spreading north, but with climate change, it has successfully penetrated and established itself in [ which? ] areas north of its native range. [8] The largest population of Holm oak in Northern Europe is present on and around St. Boniface Down on the Isle of Wight and into the neighbouring town of Ventnor, a town known for its naturally warmer microclimate, and has shown to tolerate the high winds on the downs. It is thought that this population's propagation (which was established in the late 1800's after having been planted by Victorian residents) has been bolstered by native Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius), which harvest acorns from oak trees and store them by burying them in the ground where they may then germinate. [9]

Cultivation and uses

The wood is hard and tough, and has been used since ancient times for general construction purposes as pillars, tools, wagons (Hesiod, Works and Days 429), vessels and wine casks. It is also used as firewood and in charcoal manufacture.

The holm oak is one of the top three trees used in the establishment of truffle orchards, or truffières. Truffles grow in an ectomycorrhizal association with the tree's roots.

The acorns, like those of the cork oak, are edible (toasted or as a flour) and are an important food for free-range pigs reared for ibérico ham production. Boiled in water, the acorns can also be used as a medicinal treatment for wound disinfections.

Q. ilex can be clipped to form a tall hedge, and it is suitable for coastal windbreaks, in any well drained soil. It forms a picturesque rounded head, with pendulous low-hanging branches. Its size and solid evergreen character gives it an imposing architectural presence that makes it valuable in many urban and garden settings. While holm oak can be grown in much of maritime northwestern Europe, it is not tolerant of cold continental winters.

Notable trees

The TROBI Champion in Gloucestershire measured 27 14 ft (8.3 m) in circumference at 1.2 m height in 1993. Another tree at Courtown House, Wexford, Ireland, reputedly planted in 1648, measured 20 m in height, with a spread of 43 m in 2010. [10] An ancient tree reputed to be 500 years old at Fulham Palace, London is listed as one of the Great Trees of London. [11]

The oldest holm oak in Spain, the Encina Tres Patas de Mendaza, located in Navarre, is reputed to be 1,200 years old.[ citation needed ] A specimen in Milo, in Sicily, is reputed to be 700 years old [12] while a small population on the slopes of northern village of Wardija in Malta are said to be between 500 and 1,000 years old. Prior to the Carthaginian period, holm oak was prevalent on the islands. [13]

Related Research Articles

Oak Genus of plants

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately 600 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus, as well as in those of unrelated species such as Grevillea robusta and the Casuarinaceae (she-oaks). The genus Quercus is native to the Northern Hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cool temperate to tropical latitudes in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. North America contains the largest number of oak species, with approximately 90 occurring in the United States, while Mexico has 160 species of which 109 are endemic. The second greatest center of oak diversity is China, which contains approximately 100 species.

<i>Quercus kelloggii</i> California black oak (species of plant)

Quercus kelloggii, the California black oak, also known as Kellogg oak, is an oak in the red oak section, native to western North America. Although genetically separated from them for more than 20 million years its leaves are remarkably similar in appearance to several other members of the red oak section including the red oak and the black oak found in eastern and central North America.

<i>Quercus robur</i> Species of flowering plant in the beech and oak family Fagaceae

Quercus robur, commonly known as common oak, pedunculate oak, European oak or English oak, is a species of flowering plant in the beech and oak family, Fagaceae. It is native to most of Europe west of the Caucasus. The tree is widely cultivated in temperate regions and has escaped into the wild in scattered parts of China and North America.

<i>Quercus cerris</i> species of plant

Quercus cerris, the Turkey oak or Austrian oak, is an oak native to south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. It is the type species of Quercus sect. Cerris, a section of the genus characterised by shoot buds surrounded by soft bristles, bristle-tipped leaf lobes, and acorns that usually mature in 18 months.

<i>Quercus suber</i> species of plant

Quercus suber, commonly called the cork oak, is a medium-sized, evergreen oak tree in the section Quercus sect. Cerris. It is the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses, such as cork flooring and as the cores of cricket balls. It is native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. In the Mediterranean basin the tree is an ancient species with fossil remnants dating back to the Tertiary period.

<i>Quercus agrifolia</i> species of plant

Quercus agrifolia, the California live oak or coast live oak, is a highly variable, often shrubby evergreen oak tree, a type of live oak, native to the California Floristic Province. It grows west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range from Mendocino County, California, south to northern Baja California in Mexico. It is classified in the red oak section of oaks.

<i>Quercus trojana</i> species of plant

Quercus trojana, the Macedonian oak is an oak in the 'turkey oak section' (Quercus sect. Cerris).

<i>Cedrus atlantica</i> species of plant

Cedrus atlantica, the Atlas cedar, is a species of tree in the pine family Pinaceae, native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, to the Rif, and to the Tell Atlas in Algeria. A majority of the modern sources treat it as a distinct species Cedrus atlantica, but some sources consider it a subspecies of Lebanon cedar.

<i>Quercus pubescens</i> species of plant

Quercus pubescens, the downy oak or pubescent oak, is a species of white oak native to southern Europe and southwest Asia, from northern Spain (Pyrenees) east to the Crimea and the Caucasus. It is also found in France and parts of central Europe.

<i>Ilex aquifolium</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Aquifoliaceae

Ilex aquifolium, the holly, common holly, English holly, European holly, or occasionally Christmas holly, is a species of flowering plant in the family Aquifoliaceae, native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. It is regarded as the type species of the genus Ilex, which by association is also called "holly". It is an evergreen tree or shrub found, for example, in shady areas of forests of oak and in beech hedges. In the British Isles it is one of very few native evergreen trees. It has a great capacity to adapt to different conditions and is a pioneer species that repopulates the margins of forests or clearcuts.

<i>Quercus glauca</i> species of plant

Quercus glauca, commonly called ring-cupped oak or Japanese blue oak, is a tree in the beech family (Fagaceae). It is native to eastern and southern Asia, where it is found in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, northern and eastern India, southern Japan, Kashmir, Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam.

<i>Quercus coccifera</i> species of plant

Quercus coccifera, the kermes oak, is an oak tree in the Quercus section Cerris. It is native to the Mediterranean region and Northern African Maghreb, south to north from Morocco to France and west to east from Portugal to Cyprus and Turkey, crossing Spain, Italy, Libya, Balkans, and Greece, including Crete. The Kermes Oak was historically important as the food plant of the Kermes scale insect, from which a red dye called crimson was obtained. The etymology of the specific name coccifera is related to the production of red cochineal (crimson) dye and derived from Latin coccum which was from Greek κόκκος, the kermes insect. The Latin -fera means 'bearer'.

<i>Quercus dentata</i> species of plant

Quercus dentata, also called Japanese emperor oak or daimyo oak is a species of oak native to East Asia. The name of the tree is often translated as "sweet oak" in English to distinguish it from Western varieties.

<i>Quercus faginea</i> species of plant

Quercus faginea, the Portuguese oak or Valencian oak, is a species of oak native to the western Mediterranean region in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands. Similar trees in the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa are usually included in this species, or sometimes treated as a distinct species Quercus tlemcenensis. It occurs in mountains from sea level to 1900 m altitude, and flourishes in a variety of soils and climates.

<i>Quercus alnifolia</i> species of plant

Quercus alnifolia, commonly known as the golden oak, is an evergreen oak species of Cyprus. Its common English name refers to the golden coloured lower surface of its leaves. Quercus alnifolia belongs to the endemic flora of the island and it is confined to the igneous geological complex of the Troodos Mountains. In February 2006, the parliament of Cyprus selected the golden oak to be the country's national tree.

Mediterranean woodlands and forests

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests is an ecoregion in the coastal plains, hills, and mountains bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean in North Africa. It has a Mediterranean climate, and is in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.

Mediterranean conifer and mixed forests

Mediterranean conifer and mixed forests is an ecoregion, in the temperate coniferous forest biome, which occupies the high mountain ranges of North Africa. The term is also a botanically recognized plant association in the African and Mediterranean literature.

Ifrane National Park national park in the Moyen Atlas mountain range, Morocco

Ifrane National Park is a national park located in the Middle Atlas mountain range, in Morocco. Its territory extends over the Western part of the Middle Atlas mountains and areas within the provinces of Ifrane and Boulmane. It was established in 2004,and covers an area of 125.000 ha. Much of the park is forested with Atlas cedar. Ifrane National Park is one of the few remaining habitats for the Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus; this primate prehistorically had a much broader range in North Africa, but currently survives as an endangered species in narrowly restricted and fragmented habitats.

Foloi oak forest plateau in Greece

The Folóï oak forest is an oak forest in southwestern Greece. It is located in the municipal unit Foloi, Elis, in the western part of the Peloponnese peninsula. The Folóï oak forest is situated at an altitude of 688m, on the plateau of the Folóï mountain. It is an ecosystem unique in the Balkan peninsula and consists of a territory of 9,900 acres (40 km2), which is almost entirely covered by deciduous oaks that form a dense forest area.

Southwest Iberian Mediterranean sclerophyllous and mixed forests Terrestrial ecoregion in Portugal and Spain

The Southwest Iberian Mediterranean sclerophyllous and mixed forests is a Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregion in southwestern Europe. It occupies the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, encompassing coastal lowlands and mountains in portions of Portugal and Spain.

References

Line notes

  1. "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. "Quercus ilex". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA . Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  3. Holm Oak, 2002
  4. Manos PS, Doyle JJ, Nixon KC (1999) Phylogeny, biogeography and processes of molecular differentiation in Quercus subgenus Quercus (Fagaceae). Mol Phylogenet Evol 12:333–349.
  5. Britton, J. & Brayley, E. W. (1803). Beauties of England & Wales. Vol. 4, Devon & Cornwall, Devonshire,  p99. Various publishers.
  6. Bean, W. J. (1976) Trees and shrubs hardy in the British Isles 8th ed., revised. John Murray.
  7. C. Michael Hogan, 2008
  8. BBC News, 2008
  9. "The holm oaks of Ventnor Downs". National Trust . Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  10. Johnson, O. (2011). Champion Trees, of Britain & Ireland, Kew Publishing, London. ISBN   9781842464526
  11. Editors of Time Out (2010). The Great Trees of London, Time Out, London. ISBN   9781846701542
  12. See the article about the tree
  13. Flora of the Maltese Islands, Hans Christian Weber, Bernd Kendzior, 2006, Margraf Publishers p. 184