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A deciduous tree up to 80 ft or more high in the wild, the bark very dark coloured in age, smooth and grey on young trees; winter-buds downy at the tips, otherwise glabrous; young shoots downy at first. Leaves oval in the main, but cut into deep lobes after the fashion of Q. coccinea, the lobes (usually seven or nine) being oblong and furnished with two to four bristle-tipped teeth, the space between the lobes rounded at the base. The leaves are 3 to 6 in. long, two-thirds as wide; dark shining green and glabrous above, paler beneath, and either downy or becoming almost or quite glabrous; stalk yellowish like the midrib, at first slightly downy, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long. Fruits solitary or a few on a stalk; acorns 1 to 11⁄4 in. long, downy at the top, one-third to two-thirds enclosed in a cup which has ovate-lanceolate scales, and is borne on a short, thick stalk.
Native of California and Oregon; very rare in cultivation, but a handsome tree with the red oak type of foliage. It is quite hardy, and occasionally produces fertile acorns at Kew; they take two seasons to mature, and at the end of the first are almost entirely enclosed in the cup. It is the only oak west of the Rocky Mountains which possesses the red or black oak character of leaf. It may be said to represent there the Q. velutina of the eastern states, but the leaves are not covered with a flock when young as they are in that species, and the winter-buds are glabrous except for the downy tips; in Q. velutina they are tomentose. Both species differ from the other N. American red oaks in having the upper scales of the cups only loosely appressed.
The following specimens have been recorded: Kew, pl. 1873, 55 × 43⁄4 ft (1967); Tortworth, Glos.,pl. 1878, 80 × 81⁄2 ft and 67 × 53⁄4 ft (1964).