Tree to 15 m tall. Bark smooth, grey-brown. Young shoots tomentose, later glabrous, with conspicuous white lenticels. Leaves evergreen, oblong-ovate to oblong-elliptic, to 15 × 6 cm. tapered to rounded at the base, abruptly acuminate at the apex, lateral veins up to 15 on each side of the midrib, margined with small teeth mainly above the centre of the leaf. Leaves emerge silky hairy on both sides becoming glossy dark green above and glaucous beneath with a bloom that is easily removed. Petiole to 3 cm long. Infructescences to 2 cm with up to 6 cupules. Cupules hemispherical, to 8 × 15 mm with 6–7 rings of scales. Acorn ellipsoid, to 2 × 1 cm, about 1/3 to ½ enclosed in the cup and ripening the second year. (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010; Huang et al. 1999).
Distribution China Anhui, Fujian, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan
Habitat Mountain forests at 500–2600 m.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note This species is better known as Quercus multinervis, but this name was applied by French botanist Léo Lesquereux (1859) to a fossil collected by American geologist Dr. John Evans from Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, and predates the publication of Cyclobalanopsis multinervis W.C. Cheng & T. Hong in 1963.
A tree at l’Arboretum National des Barres, France, was grown from seed received in 1901 and collected by Paul Farges from Heou-pin (Houping) near Chengkou, E Sichuan at 1400 m. The identity of this tree has long been uncertain. It was grown as Q. vibrayeana (= Q. glauca) and then Q. oxyodon but was later identified as Q. liboensis, which is now regarded as a synonym of Q. glauca. It has also been called Q. ciliaris, a renaming of Q. glauca var. gracilis, which was regarded by Rehder & Wilson as similar to Q. myrsinifolia but with the pubescent leaf undersides of Q. glauca. The des Barres tree differs very significantly in having much larger leaves to 14 × 6 cm with a glaucous bloom beneath and does not resemble these species. This tree was about 15 m tall in 1996 and in 2004, an acorn was seen on it, apparently of annual maturation (pers. obs.). It occasionally produces seed and a plant of this source at Arboretum des Pouyouleix, France, was 1.5 m × 2 cm at 1 m in 2020 (B. Chassé pers. comm.). Another propagation of the des Barres plant grows at Arboretum Chocha, France where it was about 8 m tall in 2019 (pers. obs.).
A tree at Arboretum Trompenburg was grafted in about 1988 from a plant grown from seed from Shanghai Botanic Garden. It was 7 m × 18 cm in 2021 and produces good acorn crops every other year or so, from which seedlings have been raised. (G. Fortgens pers. comm.).
A further introduction was made from Hunan, China in 2004 by Allen Coombes (CMBS 860). Trees of this provenance are at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, England, 2.7 m × 3.7 cm at 0.5 m in 2021 (B. Clarke pers. comm.), RBG Kew, 3 m tall in 2016 (Tree Register 2021) and Wynkcoombe Arboretum, 4.74 m × 4.8 cm in 2021 (N. Smith pers.comm.). Of the Wynkcoombe plant, Nicholas Smith writes on their website ‘it has grown rapidly, has not suffered from any frosts and underside of the leaves are covered in just about the whitest felt of any Oak’. At Penrice Castle, Wales it was 4 m tall in 2021 (T. Methuen-Campbell pers. comm.) while at Chevithorne Barton it was about 2 m tall in 2021 (J. MacEwen pers.comm.) There are also two trees at High Beeches (S. Bray pers. comm.). A tree at Evenley Wood Garden, Northamptonshire, is an earlier introduction and was 8 m × 22 cm in 2014 (The Tree Register 2022).
The CMBS 860 collection is represented at Arboretum des Pouyouleix, France by two trees, the larger 3 m × 4.5 cm in 2020 (B. Chassé pers. comm.). At Arboretum de la Bergerette, France it was 2.4 m tall on three stems in 2021 (S. Haddock pers. comm.). It is also grown at Arboretum Wespelaar, Belgium and at Arboretum Iturraran, Spain.
A further introduction was made to Kew by an expedition to Sichuan (SICH 2025); planted in 1999, it measured 7 m × 15 cm in 2022 (The Tree Register 2022).
Three plants are grown at Starhill Forest Arboretum, Illinois, USA but are kept in a cool greenhouse over winter (G. Sternberg pers. comm. 2021). Five plants are recorded in the Asian Garden at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, Vancouver, Canada, that derive from Chinese seed received in 2015; in 2021 the tallest measured 1.55 cm (University of British Columbia 2022; D. Justice pers. comm.).
The epithet hypargyrea derives from Greek meaning silvery beneath, referring to the leaves. It was used originally by Karl Otto von Seemen in 1900 when describing this taxon as a variety of Q. glauca. The local name in China can be translated as ‘multi-veined evergreen oak’.