We are surrounded here by large holm oak trees, quercus ilex. A large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean, growing up to 21-28m, it takes its name ‘holm’ from an ancient name for ‘holly’ thanks to its spiky leaves. The wood is hard and tough and is used for construction, as well as for firewood and charcoal production. In Andalucía, the trees are tightly protected. A licence to fell or prune a holm oak is required from the local council and only after inspection. The acorns are edible [toasted or ground into flour] and the trees are also used in truffle orchards.
Curiously, the holm oak is a monecious plant; having both male and female flowers. A single tree has both the male and female reproductive systems and so possess some flowers that are female and others that are male. Male flowers are greenish-white cylindrical aments or catkins, pendulous and short-stalked with six stamens. Female flowers are borne on erect spikes, with a white hairy stem bearing six to seven flowers.
‘Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe’ [UK: Hamlyn]
5 to remember
la encina – the holm oak
estamos rodeados de – we are surrounded by
el sistema reproductivo – the reproductive system
un amento – a catkin
un tallo peludo blanco – a white hairy stem