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Holm Oak proffers a prickly future

I read recently, in some book or other, about a tree called the Encina, growing in California. I gather this is what they call the Coast Live Oak. Live oaks are oaks that keep their leaves, more or less, throughout the year. That is, they are not (blatantly) deciduous.

Encina is 'American-Spanish' word that seems to have been corrupted from the Latin ilicina, a combination of ilic- (a reference to the holly genus, Ilex) and -inus (or -ine, for resembling). All that might point to it being the common name for Quercus ilex, the Holm Oak. In my naivety when reading the book, I just assumed it was a species transplanted from Europe.

Quercus ilex is a well known tree from the Mediterranean. Landscape designer Miguel Urquijo, standing in a garden he created just out of Ávila, in northern Spain, describes the landscape around there (as you can see in the picture above) as mostly Quercus ilex, with a bit of grassand rocks. That's true for much of the (largely modified by human) la…

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