Quercus canariensis Willd.

Mirbeck's oak or Algerian oak

Family: Fagaceae
54º 34.986N
5º 56.089W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

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.

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