'Lucombeana' Lucombe Oak

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Glossary

acorn
Fruit of Quercus; a single-seeded nut set in a woody cupule.
bud
Immature shoot protected by scales that develops into leaves and/or flowers.
clone
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
hybrid
Plant originating from the cross-fertilisation of genetically distinct individuals (e.g. two species or two subspecies).
linear
Strap-shaped.
ovate
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
reflexed
Folded backwards.

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A semi-deciduous tree up to 100 ft high, forming a large, rounded head of branches as much in diameter; the trunk has a corrugated bark like that of the Turkey oak, and is buttressed in the same way at the base; terminal bud furnished with linear scales; young shoots covered with grey down. Leaves oval or ovate, broadly tapered and unequal-sided at the base, with seven to nine parallel veins running out, and forming the tips of, triangular sharp teeth on the margin, 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide; upper surface glossy green, lower one covered with a close grey felt; stalk {1/4} to {1/2} in. long. Fruits solitary or in pairs on a short, stout stalk, ripening the second year, {3/4} to 1 in. long, the acorn more than half enclosed in a cup covered with narrow, downy scales that are reflexed at the base, but erect towards the rim of the cup.A hybrid between the cork oak and the Turkey oak raised about 1763 from seed of the latter by Lucombe, a nurseryman of Exeter, who propagated it in large quantities by grafting on Turkey oak. It is a handsome and stately tree of a distinct habit when mature, with spreading branches upswept at the ends and swollen at the base. This is well shown in the drawing of the original tree in its winter state reproduced by Loudon (Arb. et Frut. Brit., Vol. III, fig. 1712). The bark is scarcely corky and the leaves persist throughout much of the winter on the outer part of the crown. The original clone, i.e., the true ‘Lucombeana’, is comparatively rare outside the south-west, but there is a fine specimen at Kew measuring 67 × 14{3/4} ft (1965). Others outside Devon and Cornwall are: Scotney Castle, Kent, 108 × 13{1/2} ft (1971); Wilton House, Wilts, pl. 1817, 80 × 17 ft (1971); Wooton House, Dorset, pl. 1765, 76 × 16 ft (1959).Notable specimens in Devon are: Killerton, in the Park, 88 × 16{1/4} ft (1970); Powderham Castle, 90 × 17{1/4} ft and 97 × 17{1/4} ft (1970); Castle Hill, pl. 1770, 88 × 21 ft at 4 ft (1970); Bicton, in the American Garden, 102 × 13 ft (1967); Cowley Place, Exeter, 83 × 19{1/4} ft (1967); Dartington Hall, 88 × 14{3/4} ft (1968); Saltram House, 80 × 17{1/4} ft (1970); Knightshayes, 100 × 14{1/4} ft (1959); Sharpham, Totnes, 78 × 15 ft at 3 ft (1965).In Cornwall, the tree at Carclew mentioned by Elwes and Henry still exists. Some measurements of it are: 74{1/2} × 7 ft (1823); 100 × 13 ft (1903); 105 × 15{1/4} ft (1965). It is one of an original group of ten trees, estimated to have been planted a few years before 1775.’Lucombeana’ produces fertile acorns, and from these many trees have been raised which show considerable variation within the limits set by the two parent species. It is not necessary, nor indeed easy, satisfactorily to define all these variations on paper, although they are palpable enough when the trees grow together. When seedlings of ‘Lucombeana’ deviate towards the Turkey oak the bark shows little or no corkiness and the foliage is strictly deciduous. When, on the other hand, the influence of the cork oak predominates, it is evident in the corky bark and in the nearly or quite evergreen leaves. Five seedlings of the Old Lucombe oak, as it came to be known, were raised and selected in the nursery of Lucombe and Pince – three in 1762 and two around 1830. These are mentioned below. Home-raised seedlings must have been planted in many collections; and there is also the possibility that the same cross may have occurred elsewhere and been propagated (see ‘Cana Major’ and ‘Fulhamensis’).

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