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Tree 3–15 m, 1 m dbh. Bark dark grey, smooth or wrinkled when young, becoming coarser and flaking in plates with age. Branchlets with stellate pubescence, though quickly glabrous, greyish brown with small lenticels. Leaves deciduous, (2–)3–9(–12) × 1.5–3.5(–4.2) cm, elliptical to lanceolate or oblong, leathery, upper surface dull green with sparse stellate pubescence which quickly erodes, lower surface pale green with dense stellate pubescence giving a distinctive spotted appearance, midrib elevated, 6–12 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire and retuse, apex acute to rounded; petiole 0.2–0.8 cm long and pubescent. Infructescence 0.5–0.8 cm long with one to two cupules. Cupule hemispheric, 1–1.3 cm diameter; scales thin and pubescent. Acorn ovoid, with one-third to half of its length enclosed in the cupule, 0.9–1.5 cm long, stylopodium short. Fruiting July to January (Mexico). Romero Rangel et al. 2002. Distribution MEXICO: Coahuila, Distrito Federal, Hidalgo, México, Nuevo León, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz. Habitat Oak and pine-oak forest and eroded areas between 2230 and 3200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Romero Rangel et al. 2002; NT698, NT738.
Quercus mexicana is well established in cultivation in Europe and North America, and seems to be tolerant of a wide range of conditions, being surprisingly hardy even in Illinois (Sternberg 1995). One of the largest seen is a fruiting specimen at Arboretum Trompenburg, which has exceeded 10 m in steady growth since 1992 (van Hoey Smith 2001; G. Fortgens, pers. comm. 2006), despite difficulties in getting an anchor down in the wet soil there and the concomitant effects of wind-blow. There is a nice, but also leaning specimen, of about 7 m (in 2004), in the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon, growing fast from a 1998 accession. In the United Kingdom the largest specimens observed are at the Hillier Gardens, where trees grown from Frankis 168, collected in 1991, are now (2008) up to c.13 m tall. Vigorous new growth from a slightly gawky tree seems to be typical of the species, and unless very securely staked and in full sun it has a tendency to lean. It would seem to be an ideal species for dry, sunny gardens in Mediterranean climates, and its slightly hoary, dull green leaves will assort well with many typical Mediterranean plants. Leaves on new shoots in summer are brownish red.