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Tree to 35 m, 2.1 m dbh. Branchlets pale brown or dark reddish brown with white lenticels, glabrous. Leaves evergreen or late deciduous, 3–12 × 1–4 cm, ovate to elliptic or oblanceolate, rarely falcate, both surfaces largely glabrous, though occasional tufts of tomentum on the lower surface, 5–10 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire or with a few shallow lobes or teeth near the apex and one to four bristles, apex acute to acuminate; petiole 0.1–0.6 cm long and glabrous. Cupules one to two, sessile or with a peduncle to 0.5 cm long, saucer- or bowl-shaped, 1.1–1.8 × 0.3–1 cm, outer surface minutely pubes cent, inner surface partially pubescent; scales acute to obtuse, sometimes distinctly tuberculate. Acorn broadly ovoid, with one-quarter to one-third of its length enclosed in the cupule, 0.6–1.6 cm long, stylopodium prominent. Flowering March, fruiting October to November of the following year (USA). Nixon 1997, Sternberg 2004. Distribution USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia. Habitat Sand hills, stream banks and hillsides between 0 and 150 m asl. Usually on dry, sandy soils. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Least Concern. Illustration Nixon 1997; NT7, NT732. Taxonomic note Very similar to Q. laurifolia, but flowers two weeks later when the two grow together.
This species seems to be well established in cultivation, potentially forming a large tree that may branch low down into several stiffly ascending trunks to make a wide crown; this can appear as a rather dull dark green mass (although flushing bronze-red). Old leaves take on red tints in the autumn, but this is essentially an evergreen tree. In southeastern parts of the United States it is widely planted as a street tree; one somewhat more compact selection of it is marketed as ‘Darlington’ – a reference to a provenance in South Carolina (not a cultivar) (Dirr 1998). Another version of this name seems to be Q. laurifolia ‘Darlingtoniana’, attached to recently distributed plants (A. Coombes, pers. comm. 2008). A specimen at the Hillier Gardens is currently approximately 10 m high and seems to be the largest in the United Kingdom at the time of writing, although a younger one (1984 accession) at Kew is catching up, now being c.8 m tall. At Starhill Forest Arboretum it is sub-evergreen, and has so far survived two winters, despite its southern origins. It appears to be intolerant of alkaline soils.