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A deciduous tree 50 to 60 ft high in the wild; young shoots covered with short, close, brownish down which persists until the fall of the leaf. Leaves obovate or almost obversely triangular in main outline, but with usually three large lobes towards the end and often two to four smaller ones lower down, lobes rounded, base tapered, 4 to 8 in. long, 3 to 5 in. wide, upper surface dark, brightish green, rough to the touch; lower surface pale, dull, and sprinkled thickly with stellate hairs; stalk 1⁄3 to 3⁄4 in. long. Fruits solitary or in pairs; acorn 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, broadly egg-shaped, downy at the top; the cup, which encloses about one-third, is covered with pointed, downy, appressed scales.
Native of the United States, where it is widely spread, extending from Massachusetts southwards to Florida and westwards to Nebraska and Texas. Although, according to Aiton, it was introduced in 1800, it has always been uncommon. Sargent remarks that its rounded head of foliage is so dark as to appear nearly black in the landscape and that it is always a beautiful tree. It is akin to Q. alba and Q. utahensis, but the rough upper surface of the leaf distinguishes it.