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Tree to 25 m. Branchlets dark brown or reddish brown with white, corky lenticels. Leaves deciduous, (4–)7–10(–20) × 3–5 cm, narrowly obovate or elliptic, immature leaves loosely covered in semi-erect stellate hairs; mature leaves largely glabrous, but some pubescence may remain on the lower surface near veins and midrib, four to six (to eight) secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins irregularly and shallowly lobed, lobes rounded or obtuse, apex rounded; petiole 0.3–0.5 cm long. Infructescence 0.6–0.8 cm long with one (to two) cupule(s). Cupule cup- or goblet-shaped, 1–1.3 × 0.9–1 cm; scales narrowly ovate, grey and loosely appressed. Acorn ovoid or elliptic, with one-third to half of its length enclosed in the cupule, ~1.7 cm long, stylo podium persistent. Flowering April, fruiting September to October (USA). Nixon 1997. Distribution USA: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina. Habitat Wet forests and river bottoms between 0 and 200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5–6. Conservation status Least Concern. Illustration Nixon 1997. Cross-reference K82.
Quercus austrina is not well known in cultivation, either in its native United States or in Europe, and Michael Heathcoat Amory (pers. comm. 2006) describes it as ‘not very inter esting’. In major collections it is represented as small plants (at Chevithorne Barton, Ettelbruck and Trompenburg, for example). As a white oak it is not likely to thrive in Europe, but Sternberg (2004) notes that it is much hardier in winter than its southern distribution would suggest. In his Starhill Forest Arboretum, with the hot summers it needs, young plants are currently just getting going and show no sign of winter dieback. Recent commercial offerings in the United Kingdom have been misidentified, being a form of Q. nigra (a red oak) (A. Coombes, pers. comm. 2006).