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A deciduous tree, 50 to 60 ft high; young shoots soon glabrous, angled. Leaves narrowly oval or oblong-ovate, 4 to 7 in. long, 1 to 3 in. wide; tapered at both ends, often blunt at the apex, nearly always entire (rarely three-lobed near the apex); dark polished green and glabrous above, covered all the season beneath with a short grey starry down; stalk 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long. Fruits solitary, seldom in pairs; acorns 1⁄2 to 2⁄3 in. long, nearly as broad, the shortly-stalked, shallow cup about half covered with thin flattened scales.
Native of the south-eastern and central United States; introduced by John Fraser in 1786. This handsome and striking oak is uncommon in cultivation in spite of its early introduction. It is quite distinct from all other cultivated deciduous oaks in the long, narrow, entire leaves, downy beneath.
At Kew there is a fine broad-leaved specimen of Q. imbricaria in the Oak collection, measuring 66 × 51⁄2 ft (1972) and one of 70 × 43⁄4 ft at Syon House, London (1967). Apart from these the only large specimens recorded are two at Tortworth, Glos.; their measurements are 84 × 61⁄2 ft and 61 × 61⁄2 ft (1964),
In Q. incana Bartr. Q. cinerea Michx.), which is probably not in cultivation in Britain, the leaves are entire and downy beneath as they are in Q. imbricaria, but are shaped like those of Q. phellos, and the young stems are downy, not glabrous as in Q. imbricaria.
specimens: Kew, Oak Collection, 56 × 51⁄2 ft (1986); Syon House, London, 88 × 53⁄4 ft (1982); Alexander Park, Hastings, Sussex, pl. 1880, 64 × 73⁄4 ft at 4 ft (1983); Tortworth, Glos., 62 × 7 ft and 70 × 61⁄4 ft (1973); Bicton, Devon, 66 × 41⁄2 ft at 6 ft (1983).