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An evergreen small tree or shrub; young shoots clothed with grey down. Leaves stiff and hard in texture, roundish or broadly obovate, the terminal part toothed, the margins of the older leaves deflexed so that the inverted leaf has very much the shape of a shallow scoop, 1 to 21⁄4 in. long, and about the same or rather less wide; upper surface dark glossy green, lower one yellow or greyish yellow, covered with a dense close felt; stalk downy like the young wood, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long. There are five to eight prominent veins each side the midrib. Acorns 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. wide, broadening from the base upwards, and thus somewhat truncheon-shaped, but ending in a short point; cup about 1⁄2 in. deep, with downy scales, the upper ones spreading or reflexed.
Native of Cyprus; introduced to Kew in 1885, where it has proved perfectly hardy, but slow-growing. The peculiar attraction of this oak is the yellow undersurface of its leaves, but out-of-doors in England this colour is only slightly developed, and the undersurface is really greyish. But on the young leaves of a plant grown in a cool greenhouse at Kew the yellow was as markedly developed as in Chrysolepis chrysophylla.
The rarity of this oak in gardens may in part be due to the difficulty of obtaining acorns from Cyprus in viable condition. At the present time the only example at Kew grows against the Temperate House. The largest specimen of the very few recorded grows at East Bergholt Place, Suffolk; this measures 27 × 13⁄4 ft (1972). There is a smaller one at Borde Hill, Sussex, grafted on Q. cerris.
This oak is widespread in the Troödos mountains of Cyprus, often associated with Pinus halepensis and Cedrus brevifolia. The plant at Kew, mentioned on page 462, had to be removed when the Temperate House was renovated, but the species was reintroduced to the collection in 1977 by Fliegner and Simmons. In view of the difficulty in obtaining good seed of this interesting oak, it is worth noting that an old plant at Borde Hill in Sussex is grafted on Q. cerris.