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Tree to 30 m, 3 m dbh. Bark dark reddish brown or almost black, fissured into oblong scales. Branchlets dark brown or black with dense grey silky tomentum. Leaves sub-evergreen, 3–12 × 1.5–5.5 cm, ovate to elliptic or lanceolate, grey-green or glaucous, leathery and glabrous, 8–12 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire or with four to nine teeth, apex acute to obtuse; petiole 0.3–1 cm long and glabrous. Male catkins crowded, drooping, lax, up to 7.5 cm long, bracts lanceolate. Infructescence 1.5–3 cm long with two to three cupules. Cupule cup-shaped, 2–2.4 × 0.5–0.8 cm; scales appressed and pubescent. Acorn ovoid, with one-third to half of its length enclosed in the cupule, 2–2.5 cm long, stylopodium persistent. Flowering April to May, fruiting August to October of the following year (Pakistan). (Nasir 1976; Menitsky 2005; Orwa 2009).
Distribution Afghanistan India Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh Nepal Pakistan North
Habitat Himalayan oak forest between 1200 and 2900 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
One of the most imposing oaks of the Himalayas, it occupies the space between Quercus baloot, which grows at lower altitudes, and Q. leucotrichophora and Q. semecarpifolia, which take over at higher altitudes. Seeds germinate readily on falling and seedlings grow well in the shade of mature trees, benefitting from their protection. It has been observed that growth in situ is faster than that of Q. leucotrichophora. It is rarely found in pure populations, more often being in association with conifers such as Picea smithiana (where the largest specimens are found), and with Aesculus indica, Acer caesium, Cornus capitata, Betula alnoides, Pinus wallichiana, Cedrus dedoara, Abies pindrow, Taxus sp., and Cupressus torulosa (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010). The site from which EPAK 172 was collected had even more glamorous associates, including Parrotiopsis jacquemontiana and Ulmus wallichiana (fieldnotes).
An old tree at High Beeches, England was identified in 2005 by Allen Coombes. It came from Aldenham House before 1932 and was grown as Q. agrifolia or Q. wislizeni; it measured 15 m × 68 cm dbh in 2018 (Tree Register 2020). This case aside, Quercus floribunda is represented in the United Kingdom by young specimens, all grown from EPAK 172, collected in Pakistan in 1995 and quite widely distributed to British gardens from Kew (as Q. glauca): two plants at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens measured 9.8 m × 23.3 cm dbh in 2020 (Barry Clarke pers. comm.) and 4.3 m × 4.5 cm dbh in 2012 respectively (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 2020). Four plants from the same collection are at Wakehurst Place. At Shaun Haddock’s Arboretum de la Bergerette, France, where the hot summers and fertile soil result in generally ‘staggering growth’, Q. floribunda (from Haddock’s own collection) reached 4 m in nine years (Lamant 2004), and is now 8 m tall (S. Haddock, pers. comm. 2018). Haddock’s collection was made in 1995 from Kalam in the Swat Valley, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan, at around 2100 m, where winter snows are deep; he also made subsequent gatherings at about 2200 m at Murree, northeast of Islamabad. In France at least, Q. floribunda seems to be a ‘good doer’ and drought-resistant (S. Haddock, pers. comm. 2006) (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009).
The epithet means ‘flowering profusely’, in reference to the male catkins, which are long and numerous. This species hybridizes naturally with Q. leucotrichophora, giving rise to Q. × parkeri A. Camus.