Trees to 25 m tall, usually around 6 m, evergreen or semievergreen. Bark thin, dark brown, consisting of small irregular scales. Young branchlets yellowish gray tomentose, glabrescent. Petiole 1–2 cm, tomentose, glabrescent; leaves rigid, leathery, leaf blade lanceolate, ovate, ovate-elliptic, or elliptic, 6–16 × 2.5–5.5 cm, upper face dark green, shiny, glabrous or rugose with some sparse pubescence, underside initially covered with dense, yellowish brown or bronze, floccose tomentum, soon becoming glabrous or retaining fascicled hairs on axil of veins, base rounded, broadly cuneate, or rarely shallowly cordate, margin serrate with sharp, forward-facing teeth from middle to apex or sometimes entire, apex acuminate; midvein and secondary veins adaxially flat or sometimes impressed; secondary veins 10–13 on each side of midvein; tertiary veins abaxially slender, evident to prominent or obscured by indumentum when young. Female inflorescences axillary on apical portion of young shoots, 1–3 cm. Infructescence 1–5 cm; cupules 1–10. Cupule bowl- or funnel-shaped, 4–7 × 8–12 mm, enclosing 1/3–1/2 of nut; scales ovate-lanceolate, c. 1 mm, grayish brown pubescent basal to middle, apex purple red and glabrous, interior of cupule silky. Nut narrowly ovoid, 1–2 × 0.6–1 cm, glabrous; scar 3–5 mm in diameter, raised; stylopodium 2–3 mm. Flowers May–June, acorns ripen in November of the same year (China). (Huang et al.1999; le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010).
Distribution China Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang India Assam
Habitat Mixed mesophytic forests in rocky sites; 700–2700 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7-8
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note Quercus marlipoensis Hu & W.C.Cheng is closely related to Q. engleriana and may eventually be regarded as a synonym. It was introduced from 1789 m in Ma-li-po county, Yunnan, China in 2013 and is represented by a plant at Tregrehan, UK. It has much broader leaves than forms of Q. engleriana seen and also a much more persistent tomentum on the veins of the leaf underside (Tom Hudson pers. comm.).
Introduced to the Coombe Wood Nursery in 1900 by E.H. Wilson, who observed that this is always a small tree and is common in rocky places at 1000–2000 m asl. According to Bean (1976), it is one of the finest of hardy evergreen oaks for its foliage and in the milder counties of the UK should make a very handsome tree. A tree at Caerhays, England, obtained from Kew in 1921, measured 10 m × 21 cm dbh in 1984 but has since died (O. Johnson pers. comm.). A large tree at Werrington Park, England, presumably of the same source, stood 11.5 m tall in 1966 (Tree Register 2020), and was still alive in 2000; however, it has not been possible to confirm its continued existence and doubts have been expressed about its identification (O. Johnson pers. comm.). Several younger specimens are recorded in the Tree Register (2020), of which the tallest grows at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, England and reached 7.1 m × 4.5 cm in 2020, accessioned in 1980 (B. Clarke pers. comm. 2020).
This name has been traditionally applied to the plant described here with rigid, leathery leaves that have a dense floccose tomentum on the underside when young. More recent introductions under this name appear rather different with larger, thinner, and almost glabrous leaves. They are still accepted by Chinese botanists as part of Q. engleriana. Trees of this form grow at the Iturraran Botanic Garden, Spain, about 10 m tall in 2020 with leaves up to 25 × 10 cm (F. Garin pers. comm. 2020); another specimen in Arboretum des Pouyouleix, France has reached 7 m (B. Chassé pers. comm. 2020).
Described in 1897 and named after Prof. Adolf Engler (1844-1930), German botanist and professor at the University of Berlin and Director of the Berlin-Dahlem Botanic Garden.