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Algerian oak (Quercus canariensis)

Diputación de Málaga

Algerian oak (Quercus canariensis)

IDENTIFICATION

It is a strong deciduous tree (up to 30 high), with a wide canopy and a dark brown bark.  The size of the leaves can vary a lot depending on the area, whereas its shape is quite constant.  They are oval, with a slightly sinuate edge (with shallow, rounded or slightly sharp lobes). They are a bit toughened and deciduous, although they are also marcarescent: the tree keeps dry leaves from the previous year until new ones sprout and push them down, then fall during the following spring. Male flowers are grouped in large yellowish filaments, called aments; and the female ones, once ripe and fertilized, form the fruit or nut.

WHERE DOES IT LIVE?

They grow along with cork oaks, gall oaks and Pyrenean oaks. It is very demanding regarding environmental conditions. It prefers wild and humid climates, very developed acid soils (siliceous or limeless). It looks for protected and fresh places, like dells, riverbanks, from almost sea level to 700 or 900 meters above sea level, never too far from maritime influence, which is the reason why they do not go too far inland.

HOW DOES IT LIVE?

It flowers from April to May and the pollen is dispersed by the wind. The fruit, a nut, ripens in autumn and represents a great source of food for many fauna species. The Algerian oak can live about 200 to 300 years long and is able to regrow from the strain after having suffered a shock like tree felling or forest fires.

WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN THE MALAGA PROVINCE?

In the Málaga province, it can be found in two areas, both in the western part of the province: the Cortes Mountains and the Genal Valley. In the Great Path (Gran Senda), we can observe it on stages 24 to 28.

CURIOUS FACTS

The specific canariensis name comes from a mistake. When the species was discovered, with some stuff collected in Andalusia, it was thought that it came from the Canary Islands and it was given this epithet. Its wood and bark have generally been used for charcoal, to make sleepers, barrel staves, buildings or firewood.  Nuts have been and are still used to feed the cattle, especially pigs.

SIMILAR SPECIES

It can mainly be confused with the other gall oak species and with other Quercus. To differentiate it, it must be considered that the Algerian oak is a deciduous species. Its leaf must be considered, as it is wavier than in the common oak but less than in the Pyrenean oak.

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