Ajuntament de Barcelona

Quercus pubescens

Joan Brossa Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Roure martinenc
    Spanish name: 
    Roble pubescente
    English name: 
    Downy oak
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Quercus humilis, Quercus lanuginosa

    According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of this plant is vulnerable.

    Species characteristics
    Southern Europe to Anatolia
    Submediterranean forests

    Deciduous tree 10-15 m tall, although it can reach 25 m, with winding trunk and branching and irregular wide rounded crown. The bark is rough and its colour varies from brownish to greyish or, even, black in adult specimens.

    The leaves, 4-12 cm long and 2-7 cm wide, are oblong oval and slightly leathery. They have 4-9 pairs of nerves, deeply lobate margins (5-8 lobes at every side) and rounded apex. When young, they are joves, són tomentose on both sides; with aging, the tomentum (hairs making a kind of down) only remains on the lower side, which gives the leave a dun green colour, whereas the upper side is glabrous and dark green. The petiole, 5-15 mm long, is also tomentose.

    The masculine flowers are grouped into hanging catkins and the feminine ones are surrounded by an involucrum from which only the styles protrude.

    The fruits are small ovoid elongated light chestnut-brown acorns (1-4 cm long and 1-2 cm wide). They appear isolated or into groups of up to 5 and have a short peduncle, 1 cm long. The acorns are covered (in a third part or up to half long) by a very dense dome with thick overlapping tomentose ash-coloured scales.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    Downy Oak wood, similar to that of the Holly Oak, is appropiate for construction, cabinet making and as fuel. It's also used for leather tanning.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Quercus ilex, consists of the genus name Quercus, from the Celtic *quercuez, "oak, evergreen oak" —literally "beautiful tree", from *quer, "beautiful, elegant", and *cuez, "tree"—, and the Latin term pubescens, "pubescent, pilose".

    The downy oak, one of the indigenous species of the Mediterranean forest, is the sub-Mediterranean countries oak par excellence.

    The oaks keep the leaves on the tree in autumn when they have faded (marcescent leaves), and they fall because of weather conditions, as the wind.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001