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Tree to 30 m, 1 m dbh. Bark greenish grey, smooth and wrinkly when young, becoming scaly and fissured later. Branchlets dark reddish brown to grey and grooved, glabrous or with persistent, short stellate tomentum in the grooves. Leaves deciduous or sub-evergreen, 9–15(–26) × 4–8(–14) cm, obovate to elliptic, thin but rather hard, immature growth covered in yellow tomentum; in mature leaves, the upper surface shiny and glabrous or with some hairs along the midrib, lower surface with persistent buff tomentum and matted stellate hairs, but midrib and principal veins glabrous, 8–10(–14) secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins minutely revolute, entire and undulate to coarsely dentate with 25 sharp bristles on each side of the midrib, apex acuminate or rarely rounded; petiole 1.5–4(–6) cm long, glabrous or tomentose. Infructescence 1.5–2 cm long with one to three cupules. Cupule hemispheric, 1.6–2 × 1–1.2 cm; scales ovate to lanceolate, closely appressed. Acorn ovoid, with about one-third of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1.5–1.8 cm long, stylopodium absent or very small. Flowering May, fruiting November (Mexico). Muller 1942, Gonzalez & Labat 1987, Romero Rangel et al. 2002. Distribution GUATEMALA; MEXICO: Chihuahua, Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Durango, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Veracruz. Habitat Hill slopes, humid valleys and plains between 1200 and 2700 m asl. Common in cloud forest with Pinus and Abies. USDA Hardiness Zone (8–)9. Conservation status Least Concern. Illustration Gonzalez & Labat 1987, Romero Rangel et al. 2002; NT698, NT713.
The big leaves of Quercus candicans, with their hairy white undersides, and curious pachydermatous bark, make this one of the most attractive of Mexican oaks. Fortunately, it also seems to be amenable to cultivation, enabling Michael Heathcoat Amory to record that it is ‘fast growing in Devon and seems hardy … no frost damage for five years’ (Chevithorne Barton Oak Collection notes). His largest specimen (from CDR 1109) has achieved 11 m in 15 years and is probably the UK champion. In all specimens seen in research for the present work the trunk has been straight and erect, and when young has wonderful greenish grey, hide-like bark. There is a particularly beautiful specimen in the San Francisco Botanical Garden, c.10 m tall in 2004. It is not clear when this species was first introduced to cultivation, but it has evidently been collected on several occasions.