Portugal Wildlife

Guide to the Trees of a Wildlife Reserve in Baixo Alentejo

All Photographs were taken by the website author on the reserve unless otherwise stated.

Species Notes Photographs Photographs Photographs

Strawberry Tree

Arbutus unedo



Strawberry tree with young fruits that will turn orange-red as they ripen.

Flowers and developing fruits.





The vaguely Strawberry-like fruit give the tree its English common name.


Close up of Strawberry tree planted in the nature reserve.



Close up of Strawberry tree planted in the nature reserve.

Strawberry tree planted in scrubby area.








Cydonia oblonga









Common Fig

Ficus carica

Figueira brava








Wild Olive & Cultivated Olive

Olea europaea var. sylvestris and var. europaea

Oliveira brava

Wild Olive



Cultivated Olive


Approximately 70 year old Olive tree after choking Rock Rose scrub (more in background) has been cleared away from base of the tree.

Same Olive tree before the Rock Rose scrub was cleared as part of Olive grove management program.

Some of the approximately 100 Olive trees on land that is now being used as an Olive grove, Cork Oak plantation and wildlife reserve. Cork Oaks and Olive trees are typcial species found in areas inhabited by Iberian Lynx. So land management will favour these species to help create land that could eventually be populated by lynx.



Olive flowers. Now the Olive grove is being managed again after years of neglect it is hoped that the Olive trees will produce a crop of Olive Oil. Perhaps not in this first year (2017) - but once grove management , such as clearance of scrub, composting and pruning, starts to work and boost the trees' growth.

Part of Olive Grove of around 100 trees approximately 70 years old. The grove had been neglected for many years and was overrun with Gum Cistus (Cistus ladanifer) (Esteva) scrub. This scrub had been cleared so that the Olives can once again flourish and are being grown organically. Sume Yellow Lupin seeds (Lupinus luteus) (Tremoceiro amarelo), a native plant, have been sown between the olive trees to act as a green fertilizer by fixing nitrogen into the poor soil.




The Olives are of the Gallega variety which is the most common olive in Alentejo. It produces small, black olives that are mostly used to make olive oil.

The Olives were picked for the first time after the Olive Grove was rahbilitated using a rechargeable mechanical picker that removes the olives without damaging the tree.

Any unpicked olives or those fallen on the ground are a good food source for migrant birds such as Song Thrushes (Tordo pinto).





The olives are picked by spreading large nets under the trees.

Olives ready to be taken to a nearby Olive Press for the production of Olive Oil.

The Olive Nets are spread below the olive trees to catch the ripe olives thrown off the tree by the mechanical harvester.



Gallega Olive that has not yet ripened. When ripe the olives are black.

This Olive Tree was planted as an ornamental. The tree is around 100 years old. A few olives have been picked to turn into eating olives after processing. Olives straight from the tree are completely inedible due to a host of very bitter chemicals in the olives. Salt water can be used to 'cure' the olives into something that can be eaten.



The variety is Verdeall, an Olive that has two-tone olives, half green and half purple.

Verdeall Olives being picked by hand.



The Olives were cured in Salt Water with a clove of garlic and lemon rind for flavouring.

Verdeall Eating Olives, dusted with Oregano.

Olive trees after Pruning.



Olive trees being pruned. Some of the branches are then shredded to provide an Organic mulch for the olive trees.

Olive trees at various stages of pruning. The green plants sprouting between the trees are the Yellow Lupins planted as an Organic manure.

Yellow Lupin seeds were sown in the Autumn to provide a green manure for the Olive Grove. Lupins, as memberrs of the pea family, have root nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria. So lupins are able to take gaseous Nitrogen and utilise it in their plant structure. By cutting the lupins and letting then rot around the Olive trees the lupins act as an Organic fertilizer.



Yellow Lupins are a species native to Portugal and are commonly grown in the area as a green compost or for sheep fodder.

Yellow Lupins in flower in the Olive Grove.







Iberian Pear

Pyrus bourgaeana

Pereira brava

Iberian Pear blossoms in March.



Leaves unfurling (March).



Iberian Pear blossoms in March.



The Iberian Pear provides food for a range of mammals such as Iberian Badgers, Iberian Foxes, European Rabbits and various rodents, as well as a number of bird species. Iberian Badgers help to distribute the seeds.

Iberian Pears are small trees/shrubs with lots of spikes. They grow well in rocky areas. They can be used as a graft base for edible Pear trees.



Iberian Pears in December. We have used a few fruits to plant the Iberian Pear trees on additional areas of suitable land to help increase coverage of this important species that provides food and cover for many mammals, birds and insects.









Iberian Holm Oak

Quercus rotundifolia


Mature Iberian Holm Oak in Spring.

Iberian Holm Oak acorns.

Iberian Holm Oak flowers.



Iberian Holm Oak flowers.

Sapling Iberian Holm Oak.



Iberian Holm Oak's new leaf growth.

Iberian Holm Oak's new leaf growth.

Iberian Holm Oak.



Close up of Bark of Iberian Holm Oak - with some lichen cover.

The bark of a Iberian Holm Oak is very different from that of a Cork Oak. It is finely corrugated.



Mature Iberian Holm Oak.

Iberian Holm Oak new leaf growth.

Mature Iberian Holm Oak with fresh leaf growth.



Iberian Holm Oak with lots of Acorns.

Iberian Holm Oak Acorns.



The Iberian Holm Oak, Quercus rotundifolia, is sometimes thought to be the same species as the Holm oak, Quercus ilex, and sometimes they are regarded as subspecies.

On this website I have taken the view that the trees are Iberian Holm Oaks (previously I used the name Sweet Oaks), Quercus rotundifolia, and are a separate species most often found in Portugal, Spain and Morocco.

An excellent article was reprinted by the International Oak Society which discusses the Iberian Holm Oak (Quercus rotundifolia) and confirms the position on this species of tree that I have used in my website.

The article can be found here:


Other English Common Names for Quercus rotundifolia include:

Ballota Oak
Barbary Oak
Belloot Oak
Belote Oak
Evergreen Oak
Fodder Oak
Pig Oak
Sweet Oak
Sweet Acorn Oak

I favour the name Iberian Holm Oak. Though the name Sweet Oak, which I used formerly, is also good as the acorns are a key ingredient in the production of the highly prized pork from the Alentejo Black Pigs that graze free-range in the oak woodlands. On our nature reserve we do not allow livestock so instead the acorns are feasted upon by Iberian Badgers, Wild Boar, Eurasian Jays and Iberian Azurewinged Magpies among other animals.






This large tree limb broke off the Sweet Oak during a March rainstorm with high winds.

The plan is to leave the fallen tree limb where it fell to provide a food source for beetles, fungi, woodpeckers and other wildlife.

As this Iberian Holm Oak is alongside one of the reserve's main tracks we will keep on eye on it in case it becomes a danger to people and animals walking underneath it.






Cork Oak

Quercus suber


Wonderful mature Cork Oak.



Acorns of Cork Oak (December).

Mature Acorns of Cork Oak (December).



Cork Oak acorns start out green and gradually turn brown as they ripen.



Close up of Cork Oak bark with good covering of lichens.



Close up of bark of Young Cork Oak.

Bark of mature Cork oak.



A young Cork Oak (right) growing in the shade of a mature Iberian Holm Oak (left).

Cork Oak showing bark pattern of tree.



Magnificent Cork Oak.

Cork oak after bark has been harvested.



Flowers of Cork Oak.








Tamarix africana


Tamarisk growing in the outflow river from Windmill Pond.



Newly planted Tamarisk. Despite the heat and dryness of the Alentejo, one or two parts of the nature reserve are quite wet for long periods each year. In one such area Iberian Holm Oak have been dying, possibly, due to the surface water. This is where some Tamarisks, indigenous trees, that tolerate wet conditions have been planted in order to maintain tree cover.







Sage-leaved Willow

Salix salviifolia

Borrazeira branca
Iberian Endemic























Olive Grove January 2018:


Tree Species List :

1 Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo Medronheiro Native - But planted in the Wildlife Reserve October to January
2 Common Fig Ficus carica Figueira brava Native March to June
3 Wild Olive & Cultivated Olive Olea europaea var. sylvestris and var. europaea Oliveira brava Native (var sylvestris) ; Also agriculturally grown (var europaea) March to June
4 Iberian Pear Pyrus bourgaeana Pereira brava Native February to April
5 Iberian Holm Oak Quercus rotundifolia Azinheira Native March to May
6 Cork Oak Quercus suber Sobreiro Native - Also commercially grown March to May
7 Tamarisk Tamarix africana Tamargueira Native - But planted in the Wildlife Reserve March to May
8 Sage-leaved Willow Salix salviifolia Borrazeira branca Iberian Endemic February to May


Links to Portugal Nature Reserve webpages:

Most Recent Sightings






Reptiles and Amphibians





Fungi, Lichens etc


Windmill Pond

Bulrush Pond

Hide Pond

Rocky Pond

Perna Seca River


Spring Watch

Weather and Rainfall


Keystone Species

Conservation and Management

Breeding Notes

Flower Meadows

Red List

Mammal Maps

Butterfly Maps

Reptile and Amphibian Maps

Dragonfly Maps


Nearby Wildlife

Bird Feeders

Trail Cameras

Colour Ringed and Tagged Birds

Fox Gallery

Links to Photo Galleries from other countries:

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Catalonia Spain

Mashatu Botswana

Tswalu Kalahari







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