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Tree to 10 m tall. Shoots slender, sparsely tomentose when young, becoming glabrous. Leaves evergreen, thinly leathery, to 5.5 × 2.5 cm, ovate to elliptic or obovate, pointed at the apex, tapered to rounded at the base. Margin with glandular teeth but entire towards the base. Leaves are bronze when young, becoming bright green and glabrous except for sparse hairs on the midrib, paler and glabrous beneath except for small tufts of hairs at the base of the midrib. Petiole 5 mm or less. Infructescence short, with 1 or 2 cupules. Cups bowl-shaped, to 7 mm across, the appressed scales with a dense, yellow-brown tomentum. Acorns narrowly ovoid, to 1 cm long, only the base enclosed in the cup and ripening the first year. (Huang et al. 1999; le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010).
Distribution China Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan Vietnam
Habitat Woods on rocky hills at 1000–1500 m asl.
Conservation status Endangered (EN)
Tom Hudson (2015) documented the discovery of Quercus utilis in 2007 in Vietnam, apparently the first record for that country. He collected and introduced it at the same time. It was found at about 1300–1400 m near Meo Vac in Ha Giang Province, in the northernmost part of Vietnam. This locality is only about 70 km from the type locality in Yunnan. He noted that the trees ‘looked very tough and tolerant of seasonal dry spells’ and that it is able to set acorns when young. The wood is used for making charcoal in China giving rise to the common name of tan li (charcoal oak), a fact referred to by the authors of the name when they chose the epithet utilis (useful) (Hudson 2015). A plant at Tregrehan, England, has reached about 1.5 m tall (T. Hudson pers. comm. 2020).