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A small tree or shrub in the northern part of its range, but said to grow tall in the mountains of Mexico; branchlets at first covered with a fawn or brownish tomentum, later glabrous. Leaves oblong-obovate, 23⁄4 to 4 in. long, 11⁄4 to 3 in. wide, usually obtuse or rounded at the apex, rounded or slightly cordate at the base, of stiff, leathery texture, upper surface conspicuously net-veined, dark green and glabrous except for scattered stellate hairs, undersurface coated with a yellowish, stellate tomentum, the midrib and reticulations prominent, margins undulately toothed, the teeth mostly ending in short rigid mucros, the basal part sometimes almost entire; veins in about eight pairs, each running out to a tooth or sometimes branching near the margin; petiole about 1⁄4 in. long. Fruits ripening the first season, borne two to six together at the end of a slender peduncle up to 3 in. or even more long; acorn about 1⁄2 in. long, its lower quarter enclosed in a cup-shaped or hemispherical cup, with tomentose, ovate, appressed scales.
Native of N. Mexico, extending into the south-western USA (S.E. New Mexico and S.E. Arizona); introduced to Britain from Mexico in 1839. It may not have been in cultivation continuously since then, but was growing at Kew in 1883 and is now in commerce.
There are young plants of this species at Kew, raised from seed received from Carl English in the 1960s.