Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the BCC black tree maintenance tags, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Family: Fagaceae
Quercus canariensis Willd.
Mirbeck's oak or Algerian oak

Black tag 78
54o 34.986N
5o 56.089W

This unusual oak keeps most of its leaves through the winter, as this photograph taken in February shows. In spite of the implication of the Latin specific name, it is not a native of the Canary Islands, but of Southern Spain and North Africa. It grows well in England and Ireland and is completely frost-hardy, so it is surprising that it is not more widely grown. The leaves are glossy green, much brighter in colour than other evergreen oaks such as Quercus ilex. When new shoots and leaves are produced in the spring there is a striking contrast between the yellow-green new leaves and the strong green old leaves. The bark is less strongly fissured than that of our native oaks (Q. robur and Q. petraea) and the acorn cups are whiskered.

The fine example in Belfast Botanic Gardens is to be found beside the path from the Stranmillis Road gate to the Palm House

Quercus carariensis in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Quercus carariensis spring foliage

Mirbeck's oak in Belfast Botanic Gardens - February Mirbeck's oak in Belfast Botanic Gardens - spring

Quercus canariensis new leaves

Quercus canariensis acorn cup

Old and new leaves of Mirbeck's oak in spring Whiskered acorn cup of Mirbeck's oak

Quercus canariensis overwintering leaves in February

Quercus canariensis bark

Leaves of Mirbeck's oak in February Bark of Mirbeck's oak

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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