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Tree to 15 m. Bark grey or pale brown and scaly. Branchlets deep reddish brown and glabrous. Leaves deciduous, glossy green, 4–13 × 2–9 cm, ovate to elliptic or obovate, largely glabrous, but with tufts of tomentum in the vein axils of the lower surface, five to seven secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins with three to five (to seven) oblong to triangular lobes, terminating in spiny bristles (up to 10 in total), apex acute; petiole 0.6–2 cm long, glabrous or with a few hairs. Cupules one to two, sessile or with a peduncle to 0.5 cm; thin and saucer-shaped, 0.9–1.4 × 0.4–0.6 cm, both surfaces slightly pubescent or glabrous; scales acute and appressed. Acorn globose or ovoid, with one-third of its length enclosed in the cupule, 0.9–1.4 cm long, stylopodium prominent. Fruiting in the second year (USA). Nixon 1997. Distribution USA: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina. Habitat Granitic outcrops and dry slopes between 50 and 500 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5. Conservation status Endangered. Quercus georgiana has a limited range and is threatened by habitat loss. Illustration Nixon 1997, Sternberg 2004; NT692. Cross-reference K88.
Despite its very restricted natural habitat, Quercus georgiana is considered by Sternberg (2004) to be a useful as well as an attractive tree, with considerable hardiness. In particular he values it for its brilliant red autumn colour. In summer the leaves are a bright glossy green. In the wild it can form either a small single-stemmed tree or a suckering shrub, and both forms grow well in the Starhill Forest Arboretum, originating from different locations in Georgia. Dirr (1998) also recommends it strongly, and considers it suitable for use as a lawn tree. In northern Europe it seems less than totally satisfactory. At Arboretum Trompenburg it eventually made a small, round-topped tree, without a discernible leader, and there is a similar specimen at the Hillier Gardens. The champion tree in the United Kingdom is also at the Hillier Gardens – 11 m tall after about 30 years – but Allen Coombes is dubious as to the true identity of this individual (pers. comm. 2006). The species is intolerant of alkaline soil.