Holm trees are, together with cork trees and olive trees the most common tree in Alentejo and they are responsible for the unique ecosystem in the region. Much of Alentejo’sdelicate balance and biodiversity of fauna and flora are because of these 3 species of trees.
Growing up in Alentejo I’ve grown used to them and I’ve seen some extraordinary examples of these trees, but honestly nothing quite like this one.
This Holm Oak that is believed to have 150 years and with 23 meters of diameter it’s massive, I don’t even know how the tree doesn’t break completely from the weight of the branches. Being under the tree is like entering a very large tent and being under it is the best way to really understand just how special this tree is.
Tree of the year 2019
This tree won the award of best tree in Portugal and was 3rd on the European final voting.
The tree is inside a private property called “Herdade do Monte Barbeiro” and according to the owner’s son for many years only two people were allowed to “work on the tree”, those two people were the guardians of the tree between the 1920s and ’70s and had specific instructions to defend the tree and get its branches to stay at 90º so that it would stretch as far as possible.
Today the treetop has 23,28 meters diameter and it occupies an area of 487 square meters.
Holm oak tree
The Holm oak is native to the Eastern Mediterranean but it has been exported to many other countries where you can find them.
The tree is often planted to protect from wind in coastal areas as they are resistant to salt spray and they have large treetops.
They are not common in the north or countries with hard winters as they cannot stand severe winters.
In ancient Greece, the leaves of the holm oak were used to make crowns to honour people and to tell the future. The timber from these trees is very hard and strong and was used historically by many Mediterranean cultures for agricultural tools to wheels of carts and carriages.
Where is the tree?
You can find the tree on this map:
But really the best way to get there is by making the trail:
“Rota entre as Serras e a Planície” we didn’t find an online map of the trail but it starts in Corte Pequeno and goes until a small old settlement on the way it passes right in front of the tree.
Where to stay?
Mértola is a great option as you will find lots to do around the area.