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An evergreen small tree up to 30 ft high, usually a shrub in this country, of spreading habit; young shoots glabrous. Leaves glabrous, narrowly oval or oblanceolate, tapered at both ends, blunt-pointed, entire, of hard, leathery texture, 31⁄2 to 6 in. long, 1 to 21⁄4 in. wide, glossy yellowish green above, dullish green beneath but with a slight silvery sheen due to the presence of minute scales; veins nine to eleven on each side the midrib; stalk 1⁄3 to 1 in. long. Acorns produced in triplets on stout woody spikes 2 to 3 in. long, but only an occasional acorn attains to full size, for which it requires two seasons; it is then about 1 in. long, 1⁄3 in. wide, pointed at the apex, bullet-shaped. The cup is about 1⁄4 in. deep.
Native of Japan; introduced in the first half of the 19th century but still uncommon in gardens. It is a distinct and handsome evergreen bearing a slight resemblance to Quercus acuta, which being a true oak has quite different flowers, and leaves of a deeper green, not so tapered at the base and distinctly woolly when young. The confusion between the two species may in part be due to the fact that L. edulis has been distributed under the erroneous name Quercus laevigata, which is properly a synonym of Q. acuta. It is also often wrongly called Q. glabra (see below).
L. edulis is quite hardy south of London in a sheltered position and occasionally produces fertile acorns.
L. glaber (Thunb.) Nakai Q. glabra Thunb.; Pasania glabra (Thunb.) Oerst. – This species has been confused with L. edulis, but is easily distinguished by the dense grey or yellowish down on the young branchlets, and by the leaves, which are silvery below from a close tomentum of very short hairs and have only six to eight pairs of lateral veins. Also the flowering and fruiting spikes are terminal and tomentose in this species, axillary and glabrous in L. edulis. Native of Japan and S. China. Probably most of the plants grown as Quercus glabra are not L. glaber but L. edulis. That this confusion should have arisen is understandable, for it is L. edulis that is the glabrous species; L. glaber, despite its name, is far from glabrous.