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Edible uses


Seed - raw or cooked[1][2][3][4]. It can be sweet or bitter[K]. The seed is up to 3cm long[5], it can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickening in stews etc or mixed with cereals for making bread. The seed from some trees contains bitter tannins, these can be leached out by thoroughly washing the seed in running water though many minerals will also be lost. Either the whole seed can be used or the seed can be dried and ground it into a powder. It can take several days or even weeks to properly leach whole seeds, one method was to wrap them in a cloth bag and place them in a stream. Leaching the powder is quicker. A simple taste test can tell when the tannin has been leached. The traditional method of preparing the seed was to bury it in boggy ground overwinter. The germinating seed was dug up in the spring when it would have lost most of its astringency.

The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[6].

Unknown part

Material uses

A mulch of the leaves repels slugs, grubs etc, though fresh leaves should not be used as these can inhibit plant growth[7].

Oak galls are excrescences that are sometimes produced in great numbers on the tree and are caused by the activity of the larvae of different insects. The insects live inside these galls, obtaining their nutrient therein. When the insect pupates and leaves, the gall can be used as a rich source of tannin, that can also be used as a dyestuff[8]. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and of trimming, it can be grown as a shelterbelt tree or hedge in maritime areas[9][10][11][12]. Wood - strong, hard, durable. Used for furniture[3][4][13]. It makes a good charcoal[13] and a good fuel, burning well even if green[14].

The bark is a source of tannin[14].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of haemorrhages, chronic diarrhoea, dysentery etc[8].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions




Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - it quickly loses viability if it is allowed to dry out. It can be stored moist and cool overwinter but is best sown as soon as it is ripe in an outdoor seed bed, though it must be protected from mice, squirrels etc. Small quantities of seed can be sown in deep pots in a cold frame. Plants produce a deep taproot and need to be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible, in fact seed sown in situ will produce the best trees[9]. Trees should not be left in a nursery bed for more than 2 growing seasons without being moved or they will transplant very badly.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Quercus ilex. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a good deep fertile loam which can be on the stiff side[9]. Thrives on shallow chalky soils[15]. Succeeds in all soils except those that are cold and poorly drained[16]. Grows well in sandy soils[15]. Young plants tolerate reasonable levels of side shade[5]. Very resistant to maritime exposure[9][11][12].

A very ornamental tree[1] but it is quite slow-growing[12]. Transplants badly unless moved regularly and this should be done as growth commences in late May or in September[9]. Fruits very freely in Britain[K]. The seed ripens in its first year[5]. The sub-species Q. ilex ballota is cultivated for its sweet-tasting edible seed in Portugal and Spain[K]. Hybridizes freely with other members of the genus[5].

This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[17][5].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Quercus ilex. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Quercus ilex.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Quercus ilex
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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  1. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  3. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  4. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  5. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
  8. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  9. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Shepherd. F.W. Hedges and Screens. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0900629649 (1974-00-00)
  11. ? Arnold-Forster. Shrubs for the Milder Counties. ()
  12. ? Rosewarne experimental horticultural station. Shelter Trees and Hedges. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1984-00-00)
  13. ? Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
  14. ? Gamble. J. S. A Manual of Indian Timbers. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh (1972-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  16. ? Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs. ()
  17. ? RHS. The Garden. Volume 112. Royal Horticultural Society (1987-00-00)

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Facts about "Quercus ilex"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyFagaceae +
Belongs to genusQuercus +
Functions asHedge + and Windbreak +
Has binomial nameQuercus ilex +
Has common nameHolly Oak +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part + and Seed +
Has edible useCoffee +, Oil + and Unknown use +
Has environmental toleranceMaritime exposure + and High wind +
Has fertility typeWind +
Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
Has growth rateSlow +
Has hardiness zone7 +
Has imageGhjandi.jpg +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useFuel +, Repellent +, Tannin + and Wood +
Has mature height25 +
Has mature width20 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAstringent +
Has primary imageGhjandi.jpg +
Has search namequercus ilex + and holly oak +
Has shade toleranceLight shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy +, Clay + and Heavy clay +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameQuercus ilex +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
Tolerates maritime exposureYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Quercus ilex +, Quercus ilex +, Quercus ilex +, Quercus ilex +, Quercus ilex +, Quercus ilex +, Quercus ilex + and Quercus ilex +