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Tree to 25 m. Bark grey-brown, deeply ridged on mature trees. Young shoots covered in pale brown hairs, becoming smooth with age. Leaves evergreen, leathery, yellow-brown tomentose above when young becoming dark green and rough, covered with a yellow-brown tomentum beneath, up to 8 × 4 cm, elliptic-oblong to slightly obovate, rounded at the base, rounded or bluntly pointed at the apex, entire or with spine-toothed slightly revolute margins, veins up to 9 on each side of the midvein, impressed above, raised beneath. Petiole stout, tomentose at first becoming glabrous, 2–4 mm long. Infructescence and arching spike to 12 cm long with up to 6 or more cupules. Cupules thin-walled, to 1.2 cm long, the appressed scales edged with hairs. Acorns rounded, to 1 cm long, only the base or most of the acorn enclosed in the cup and ripening the following year. (le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010; Hillier & Lancaster 2014).
Distribution China Sichuan, Yunnan
Habitat Mountain forests at 2260–4000 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Introduced in 1981 by Roy Lancaster (as Quercus semecarpifolia) from the valley of the Pi River, Sichuan, China (Lancaster 960). Quercus longispica is very distinct from other golden oaks in the long arching fruit clusters. At the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, England, a plant from the original introduction has reached 10.7 m × 43.3 cm diameter (at 0.4 m) in 2020 (B. Clarke pers. comm.). It is among the latest flowering of all oaks, producing profuse male catkins up to 18 cm long in July (UK) and is worth growing just for that. The Hillier tree frequently produces acorns which appear to come true; seed and seedlings have been distributed from this plant and this is the origin of a plant at the Iturraran Botanical Garden, Spain.
An introduction from Yunnan was also made to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens by John Rippin in 1999 (RIJ 204) and a plant from this collection is at Arboretum de la Bergerette, France, reaching 5.7 m in 2018 (S. Haddock pers. comm.). A plant at Arboretum des Pouyouleix, France, was raised from seed sent from Yunnan in 2012 and was a small, multistemmed plant in 2020 (B. Chassé pers. comm.).
The epithet means ‘with long spikes’, in reference to the long infructescence, from Latin longus = long + spica = ear of grain.