Quercus ilex

Quercus ilex

Holly Oak or Holme Oak

[optinlocker]Quercus ilex is a tree that has been used in landscapes for many 1000s of years. Although it probably originates in the eastern Mediterranean, because of the religious significance of this tree, it spread throughout Europe before Roman settlement. Currently, there are major plantings of Holly Oak in southern Europe, where avenues, screens and specimen plantings all thrive.

In south-eastern Australia, Q. ilex has been used in older park plantings from 1900 onwards. It forms a round-headed, elegant tree with glossy evergreen foliage. The common name, ‘Holly Oak’, refers to the bristle-tipped leaves that are the size and shape of European Holly. Paired with the tree’s very dark-grey bark, the impact is very strong and sombre.

Q. ilex will tolerate many climatic and soil extremes in south-eastern Australia. In many Melbourne and Adelaide parks, it grows well, although slowly, with little-to-no summer irrigation once established. There are reports of Holly Oak becoming weedy in the moist, ideal sites found on the south coast of New South Wales, but for most of Australia, the small acorns are infrequent, and don’t seem to germinate readily.

There are only 2 limitations to using Q. ilex in the landscape, its extremely slow growth rate, and its eventual large size. As a hedged specimen or as a park tree it can be a significant part of many landscapes.[/optinlocker]

Typical mature height: 20m in Melbourne

Useful in: reserves, parks & broad nature strips

Sites for best growth: most sites appropriate