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Holm Oak - Quercus ilex (Fagaceae) HEIGHT to 28m. Broadly domed tree; crown is often very dense and twiggy. BARK Very dark with shallow fissures, eventually cracking to form squarish scales. BRANCHES Appear from low down on bole. Young shoots are covered with white down. LEAVES Variable: usually ovate to oblong with a pointed tip and a rounded base on mature trees, but more like holly leaves on a young tree. Leaves are dark glossy above, paler and downy below with raised veins; on 1–2cm-long, hairy petioles. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS Male catkins appear in spring, their golden colour contrasting with silvery new leaves and darker twigs. Acorns, to 2cm long, sit deeply in cups covered with rows of small hairy scales. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION Native of S Europe, planted here, mainly in mild areas and as a shelter-belt tree in coastal areas, to protect more tender species from winds and salt spray.