Tree to 15 m, branching from the base. Branchlets tomentose. Leaves semievergreen, 3–8 × 1.5–3 cm, narrowly elliptic, ovate or somewhat lanceolate, papery, immature leaves pubescent, but mature leaves almost glabrous, 6 to 11 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins serrate from middle to apex, apex acuminate; petiole 0.5–0.8 cm long, tomentose. Infructescence ~2.5 cm long with four to five cupules. Cupule cup- or kettle-shaped, 1–1.2 × 1–1.5 cm, with appressed hairs; scales triangular, not firmly attached to cupule wall. Acorn subglobose, with about three-quarters of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1–1.2 cm long × 1 cm wide, apex mucronate, tomentose; stylopodium persistent. Flowering April to June, fruiting September to November of the same year (China). (Huang et al. 1999; Menitsky 2005)
Distribution China Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan
Habitat Sunny mountain slopes, dry river valleys; 1000–2600 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8-9
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note Quercus cocciferoides var. taliensis is accepted by Govaerts et al. (2020), but for Huang et al. (1999) it is a synonym. It was described originally as Q. taliensis, by A. Camus, who distinguished it as having leaves glabrous with entire margins in the lower quarter, but this could also apply to typical Q. cocciferoides. Occurs near Dali in Yunnan (formerly, Tali, hence the epithet).
Often observed as dense, bushy vegetation on dry limestone soils of mountain slopes, Q. cocciferoides is close to Q. acrodonta, and the two species associate with Pinus yunnanensis to form mountain forests on northern slopes of dry riverbeds. In higher gorges, between 1700 and 2500 m asl, it is found in association with P. armandii (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010).
According to le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant (2010), distinguishing characteristics include the leaf margin (entire in the inferior third or half, serrated towards the apex), and the new growth, which is furnished with ashen tomentum on the undersides and the midvein above, later becoming glabrous. This feature distinguishes it from Q. acrodonta, where the tomentum on the abaxial surface is persistent.
Introduced to the UK from Cao Ming 334, collected near Wuding, Yunnan, in 1998. A plant from this source grew at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, England, where it was killed to the ground during the winter of 2005–2006, but resprouted in 2006. Another plant grew at Wakehurst Place, England (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009). However, both of these plants now appear to have died, so this species has yet to be proved hardy in Britain.
The epithet indicates similarity to Q. coccifera, in this case based on the size of tree and the general appearance of the foliage.