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Shrub or tree, usually to 10 m (US champion 16.6 m, 1.8 m dbh). Bark fissured, with shaggy plates, light or dark grey. Branches spreading, forming a rounded crown. Branchlets yellowish grey with sparse or dense stellate tomentum when young. Leaves deciduous or sub-evergreen, (1.5–)2.5–3.5(–8) × 1.5–3(–4) cm, oblong to ovate or elliptic, upper surface dull green with profuse stellate tomentum, lower surface dull greyish or yellowish green and with minute, interlocking stellate hairs, 6–10 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins somewhat revolute, entire or with three to five shallow mucronate teeth near the apex, apex acute to obtuse; petiole 0.3–1 cm long. Infructescence 1.2–1.6 cm long with one to two cupules. Cupule deep and goblet- or cup-shaped, 0.8–1.5 × 0.4–1 cm; scales ovate to oblong, proximal scales tuberculate; reddish brown, appressed. Acorn ovoid to ellipsoid, with half of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1.2–1.8 cm long, stylopodium short. Flowering April, fruiting August to October (USA). Nixon 1997, Sternberg 2004. Distribution MEXICO: Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Veracruz, Zacatecas; USA: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas. Habitat Between 1500 and 2200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 6–7. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Nixon 1997; NT698, NT731.
In the United States this species, with its attractive sub-evergreen blue-grey foliage, is considered to be a rapid grower in cultivation (Melendrez 2000, Sternberg 2004). As it is a white oak, unenthusiastic growth is perhaps to be expected in areas with cool summers. Young trees at Ettelbruck are putting on good growth, but specimens in southern England seem to do less well. The largest observed for the present work, at the Hillier Gardens, is just over 5 m tall after several decades (planting date unrecorded, but prior to 1980), and has formed a rather scrappy-looking bushy dome. Younger plants there also seem to be slow-growing. It will probably do best in warmer areas on acidic soil, although it shows no chlorosis at pH 6.9 (E. Jablonski, pers. comm. 2006). It has not apparently suffered winter damage in Luxembourg or western Germany.