Holm oak: tree and leaves

Holm oak: tree and leaves

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Grown mainly to have some firewood, but also for aesthetic reasons, the Holm oak it is a tree that many of us can meet during any walk in a city park or in a wood. Let's see what characteristics it has, how it is used and how it is made. We often pass by some very particular trees and we don't even notice it, only then by documenting it we come to know the value of trees labeled as "any trees". This happens especially with trees like the Holm oak which are not difficult to find in our country.

Holm oak: tree

Widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin, the Holm oak it is a kind of thermophilic plant characteristic of the Mediterranean scrub, in Italy it is present at sea level up to 600 meters high but in the South, where it falls more, it also reaches 800 - 1000 meters above sea level. The Holm oak it is one of the evergreen oaks, one of the longest-lived because it can reach a thousand years.

It belongs to the class of Dicotyledones and to the family of Fagaceae, can reach 30 meters in height and has a very dense, evergreen, very dark crown. Its trunk is robust and covered with a brownish-gray wrinkled bark, cracked in subrectangular plates. The wood of this oak is very hard and is in fact difficult to be worked, which is why it is used to be burned or as a decorative tree on the side of the roads or inside parks.

One of the features that make us love it is the fact that the Holm oak it allows to obtain wood production even from difficult soils as it is an adaptable plant and has the capacity to generate suckers in a more efficient way than deciduous oaks. Let's not forget to also mention that i holm oak woods they are very beautiful, and those who have walked there know something about them, especially in some areas of coastal peninsular Italy.

Holm oak: leaves

Simple, leathery lamina with entire or toothed margin, the leaves of the Holm oak they can take very variable forms. There are lanceolate or even elliptical ones, there is no lack of round ones, in the rotundifolia subspecies. The base can also be wedged as well as rounded.

The upper part of the leaves is usually dark green and glossy while the lower one is greyish and markedly tomentose. The dimensions can also vary a lot, in length from 3 to 8 centimeters, in width from 1 to 3.5 centimeters, the central rib is straight and there are 7 - 11 pairs of lateral ribs. Also on the lower page there is a pubescence which is similar to that of the Quercus suber with trichomes that hide the rounded stomata, then there is the short, hairy petiole, provided with brownish stipules, linear and soon deciduous.

The leaves remain on the plant 2-3 years on average and there are generally two types, which is why the Holm oak is a heterophylly plant. The apical leaves and those of the young specimens are oval in shape and have mucronate teeth, show a small pubescence of the lower side and some trichomes also on the upper side. Then there are the leaves of the seedlings which are very hairy, almost white when sprouting, but then become hairless.

Let's move on to flowers, even if they are not the essential part of the plant. Also in this case we have two types, the male ones and the female ones. The female ones have a short peduncle and are found on the branches alone or in groups of 2-3, the male ones are arranged in glomeruli that form filiform catkins. The fruit? It's a long acorn up to 3 centimeters which has a gray dome with some small scales.

Holm oak: dimensions

We talked about heights even up to 30 meters, then a lot also depends on the subspecies of Holm oak we are talking about. There are two. The first is there Quercus ilex subsp. Ilex, originally from the area from the east of the Iberian Peninsula to the French Riviera to Greece. It has very close leaves and 2cm acorns. The second subspecies is the Quercus ilex subsp. Rotundifolia, coming from the south of the Iberian Peninsula and northeastern Africa. It has much thinner leaves and slightly larger acorns, with a length of 2.5 centimeters and a bitter taste.

Leccio: Mediterranean

As we have seen talking about the two subspecies, the Holm oak it is a plant that grows throughout the Mediterranean basin except in Egypt. It is particularly widespread in the western sector, especially in Algeria and Morocco and throughout the Iberian peninsula but it is also well present in Mediterranean France and Italy, where it forms pure woods even of considerable size.

In our peninsula we find the Holm oak on the islands and along the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts, less on the Adriatic ones. We also find some presence of Holm oaks in the Pre-Alps along the coasts of the lakes, on the Euganean Hills, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Romagna.

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