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A wide-spreading, deciduous tree reaching 100 ft in height in the wild; buds with linear stipules; young branches downy. Leaves narrowly oval or oblong, tapered at both ends, margined with coarse, triangular teeth, each terminated by a small, slender, abrupt mucro, 3 to 71⁄2 in. long, 11⁄4 to 3 in. wide, dark glossy green above and glabrous except when quite young, underside dull greyish and clothed with minute down, occasionally almost glabrous; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, downy. The larger leaves have ten to twelve pairs of parallel veins, prominent beneath, which run out and furnish the short mucronate tip of the tooth. Fruits solitary or in pairs (occasionally up to five) on a short, stout, downy peduncle, ripening the second year. Acorns 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, flattened at the top, and half enclosed in a cup with reflexed downy scales.
Native of the forest region south and south-west of the Caspian Sea (N. Persia and bordering parts of Russia). It is a very striking and handsome tree, with a leaf resembling that of a Spanish chestnut in form; but it has always been rare in this country. The splendid tree at Kew, planted around 1846, is by far the largest and oldest in Britain. In 1909 it measured 60 × 91⁄2 ft and is now 90 × 191⁄2 ft (1972). Also in the collection are two trees raised from seeds brought home from Persia by Dr James Aitchison in 1885. The herbarium specimen collected by him came from near Gorgan (Asterabad), and no doubt the seeds were of the same provenance. These trees measure 44 × 53⁄4 ft and 55 × 7 ft (1964-5). Some other specimens are: Batsford Park, Glos., 70 × 93⁄4 ft (1971); Longleat, Wilts, 92 × 111⁄2 ft (1971); Abbotsbury, Dorset, 66 × 6 ft (1972); East Bergholt Place, Suffolk, 60 × 51⁄2 ft (1972).
specimens: Kew, pl. 1846, 105 × 213⁄4 ft, pl. 1885 (Aitchison introduction), 56 × 71⁄2 ft (1981), pl. 1953, 66 × 81⁄4 ft (1985); Alexandra Park, Hastings, Sussex, pl. 1880, 74 × 111⁄2 ft (1983); Beauport, Battle, Sussex, Oak Wood, 77 × 141⁄2 ft (1983); Longleat, Wilts., 92 × 111⁄2 ft (1971); Abbotsbury, Dorset, the tree mentioned is Q. cerris; Batsford Park, Glos., 78 × 101⁄4 ft (1980); East Bergholt Manor, Suffolk, 60 × 51⁄2 ft (1972).
Q. castaneifolia was reintroduced to Kew by Fliegner and Simmons in 1977 from the Elburz mountains of Iran.