Shrub or small tree to 10 m tall × 4 m wide. Branches somewhat pendulous, young shoots yellowish brown, densely stellate-tomentose. Leaves evergreen, leathery, 0.9–4 × 0.9–2.5 cm, margin serrate or entire, broadly oblong to ovate, apex rounded, upper surface glabrous or with inconspicuous tomentum, lower surface grey-white with stellate tomentum, 5–9 vein pairs, inconspicuous above; petiole absent or 6 mm long, grey tomentose. Acorns typically brown, tan, yellow, light green, deep green or grayish green; 1.8–2.2 cm, ovate, mucronate, maturing the second year; acorn with a third to half of its length enclosed in the cupule, apex flattened to acute; acorns sweet and edible; cupule cup-shaped, sessile, to 25 mm diameter × 18 mm, light brown; scales ovate to lanceolate, appressed, pubescent. (Hedge & Yaltirik 1994; Güner et al. 2019; le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010).
Distribution Greece Eastern Aegean Isles including Kos Turkey SW Anatolia
Habitat Maquis on limestone slopes, between 0 and 450 m asl, in association with Pinus halepensis.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note This species is closely related to Q. coccifera, which has largely glabrous leaves and a cupule 1–2 cm diameter.
Near to Quercus coccifera, and not recognised as distinct from it by all authorities, Q. aucheri differs chiefly in having the leaves densely grey-tomentose beneath, although this is not apparent in young plants in cultivation. Unlike Q. coccifera, acorns germinate from the base and not the apex. On mature trees, leaves on the inferior section of the branches are entire, those at the top have five or six pairs of finely mucronated teeth. In addition, the acorns are sweet, which is not the case with Q. coccifera, and the scales on the lower section of the cupule are not reflexed like they are in Q. coccifera. Q. aucheri acorns are edible and have been collected by locals, who use them for food and as a substitute for coffee. They also have medicinal uses as a repellent and astringent (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010; Güner et al. 2019)
For the most part indifferent to soil pH, this oak species prefers a deep loam to heavy clay soil, and in habitat occurs mostly on calcareous slopes. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. (Güner et al. 2019)
It was described by Jaubert and Spach in 1843 from a specimen collected on the Greek island of Kos by Pierre Martin Rémi Aucher-Éloy (1792–1838), French pharmacist and botanist, in whose honour it was named (Jaubert & Spach 1843).
Oldfield & Eastwood’s Red List of Oaks (2007) listed it as Near Threatened (populations localised and isolated), but in 2020 IUCN states it is of Least Concern: ‘Although it does not have a large distribution, the population is not thought to be experiencing significant declines […] it is recommended that the species is monitored for declines due to tourism expansion’ (Güner et al. 2019).
Recent introductions are now established in cultivation, with small trees in major collections. Introduced to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in 1999 as seed from Ataturk Arboretum, collected near Marmaris, Turkey, with a later introduction (Coombes 604) in 2002. It is slow-growing in cultivation and appears to prefer a warm, dry position. Plants from the 1999 introduction are 1.3 m tall at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, England in 2020 (B. Clarke pers. comm.) and 1 m at Chevithorne Barton, England (2012). From the second introduction it has reached 1.5 m at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens (2015) (The Tree Register 2020).