A16: Holm Oak: Quercus ilex

This is native to Europe, Russia, North Africa, and SW Asia, and was first introduced to Guernsey in 1581. This evergreen tree has a broad, domed, dense, often many stemmed domed crown to 25-30 m. The young shoots are usually woolly and the leaves can be variable in shape, usually oval, toothed, glossy black-green above, grey and wooly below. They usually unfurl in June and the old leaves ( 2 years old) drop in August. The bark is brownish-black and shallowly cracked into small square, thin, dry and often curling plates. The fruits are typical oak nuts in cupules. This is a favourite climbing tree in the park, along with the Lawson’s Cypress close by. It comes from the Mediterranean where it can reach over 500 years old. The oldest trees in Britain are possibly 500 years old, and on the Isle of White near Ventnor it has become invasive. The wood is hard and has been used since classical times for pillars, wagons, wine casks. It is also good for establishing truffle orchards.

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