Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Quercus Canariensis

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Quercus canariensis leaf (18/02/2012, Kew, London)

Quercus canariensis leaf (18/02/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Full Sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 30m

Eventual Spread: 25m

Hardiness: 7a – 10b

Family: Fagaceae

Quercus canariensis is a slow growing deciduous/ semi evergreen, medium/ large tree. Its dull dark green leaves are up to 12cm long and 6cm broad, hairless above,  glaucous beneath, with 6 – 12 pairs of shallow lobes and oblanceolate in shape. The branches of the tree are spreading and horizontal. The trunk can achieve a diameter of 1.5m and the bark is deeply fissured and grey/ brown in color. The flowers of the tree are yellow green catkins. The fruit of the tree is an acorn, 2.5cm long and 2cm broad, in a shallow cup.

Quercus canariensis (18/02/2012, Kew, London)

Quercus canariensis (18/02/2012, Kew, London)

Quercus canariensis, commonly known as Algerian Oak or the Mirbeck’s Oak, is native to south west Europe and north west Africa. Despite the scientific name, it does not occur naturally today in the Canary Islands, although it may have done in the past. Quercus canariensis is synonymous with Quercus mirbeckii. It was introduced into the UK in 1854 by Robert Fortune. This tree readily hybridizes with a number of other Oak species.

The etymological root of the binomial name Quercus is derived from the Latin name for an Oak tree, but some authorities believe it to be derived from the Celtic quer meaning ‘fine’ and cuez meaning ‘a tree’. Canariensis is derived from the Latin meaning ‘from the Canary Islands’, although as previously mentioned this is not the case.

Quercus canariensis trunk (18/02/2012, Kew, London)

Quercus canariensis trunk (18/02/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Quercus canariensis useful as a long lived semi-evergreen specimen tree. Once established this tree is drought tolerant.

Ecologically, Q. canariensis leaves and acorns are eaten by mammals and some birds.

Q. canariensis prefers moist, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil although it prefers calcareous soils.

Q. canariensis requires little maintenance.

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