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An evergreen tree of large size (up to 120 ft high with a trunk girthing 15 ft); scales of buds round and downy; young shoots furnished at first with tawny down. Leaves variable in size and shape, mostly narrowly oval or oblong, rounded or broadly tapered at the base, pointed, the margins usually conspicuously and sharply toothed except towards the stalk, dark glossy green above, glaucous and at first downy beneath, ordinarily 6 to 10 in. long, 21⁄2 to 4 in. wide; stalk 1 to 13⁄4 in. long; ribs sunken above, very prominent beneath, in usually twenty to twenty-five pairs. Fruits stalkless, solitary to as many as four on a short stout spike, the flattish acorn 1 in. or more across, almost enclosed by the cup which is twice as wide and made up of about ten thin, concentric downy rings set one above the other.
Native of the Himalaya from Nepal to Assam, S.E. Tibet, Upper Burma, and Yunnan; discovered in Nepal by Buchanan-Hamilton in 1802. Of all the Asiatic oaks that are likely to grow outside in any part of this country this is the finest alike in the size of the leaves and that of the acorn-cups. Sir Joseph Hooker described it as the noblest of all oaks. A leaf collected by him in Sikkim about 1850 and preserved at Kew is 15 in. long and 9 in. wide; another is 18 in. long by 6 in. wide, and has thirty-five pairs of veins. It is found up to 9,000 ft altitude in Sikkim, at about the same elevation as Rhododendron grande, and they ought to be of similar hardiness.
The only example of any size recorded in the British Isles is one at Caerhays, Cornwall, raised from seeds collected by Forrest in 1924 on the border between Burma and Yunnan (F.24183). It measures 32 × 31⁄2 ft at 3 ft (1966).
There are two trees at Caerhays, Cornwall, from the Forrest introduction, measuring 42 × 43⁄4 ft and 66 × 3 ft (1984).