Sun exposure:
Dappled shade, full sun
East facing, south facing, west facing
Position in border:


Acidic / Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

Quercus ilex, or holm oak, is a large, evergreen tree with a rounded crown. It's also known as the holly oak or evergreen oak. The young leaves look similar to holly leaves and have white undersides, while the older leaves have smoother edges. In June new, whitish young leaves appear at the same time as yellow catkins. After being pollinated by wind, the female catkins develop into acorns, which are smaller and more pointed than those of English oak.

The holm oak is tolerant of salt spray and strong winds, so is a good choice for a coastal garden and is often planted as a windbreak. It's also tolerant of pollution, so can be grown in urban gardens. Holm oak can be clipped into large topiary shapes – this is commonly seen in Italy. It can also be grown as a hedge.

The holm oak is native to the Mediterranean and was introduced to Britain in the late 1500s. With climate change, the holm oak could be better suited to drier summers than some of our native trees. It doesn't support quite as many species as our native oaks (Quercus rubra and Quercus petraea) but the catkins are a source of pollen for bees and other insects, and large birds and small mammals eat the acorns. Its dense, evergreen canopy gives year-round shelter for birds.

Grow in any well-drained soil, in sun or partial shade. In severe winters Quercus ilex may lose its leaves or die, so it is best grown in milder parts of the UK. Prune to shape in summer if needed.

Where to buy Quercus ilex online

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Quercus and wildlife

Quercus is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects and birds. It has nectar/pollen rich flowers and provides shelter and habitat.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is not known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Quercus poisonous?

Quercus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People
Plants that go well with Quercus ilex