There are currently no active references in this article.
Shrub or tree to 15 m, 1 m dbh. Bark dark grey and divided into rectangular plates. Branchlets grey-tomentose to brown and glabrous. Leaves evergreen, 2–4(–6) × 3–4.5(–8) cm, obovate or elliptic or rarely circular, leathery, upper surface greyish green, lower surface white or glaucous with stellate tomentum, six to seven (to eight) secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire or with spiny teeth, revolute, apex acute to rounded; the leaves on one plant range from entire to having 1–14 holly-like spines; petiole 0.3–0.6 cm long with stellate pubescence. Infructescence 2–4.2 cm long with one cupule. Cupule cup-shaped with villous margins, 1.2–1.4 × 0.8–1 cm; scales elliptic to oblong and with appressed apices, lower scales tuberculate. Acorn elliptic, with half to three-quarters of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1.5–2.5 cm long, stylopodium prominent. Flowering April to May, fruiting September (Pakistan). Browicz & Menitsky 1971, Nasir 1976, Menitsky 2005. Distribution AFGHANISTAN; INDIA: Kashmir, Kumaun; PAKISTAN. Habitat Dry valleys of the Himalaya and Hindu Kush between 1800 and 3000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Menitsky 2005.
The origins of Quercus baloot might suggest that it was introduced by a nostalgic veteran of the Northwest Frontier many years ago, but it seems that most specimens in cultivation are derived from a gathering made by Shaun Haddock in the mountains of northwest Pakistan in 1995. Allen Coombes (pers. comm. 2005) recalls how Haddock, then an airline pilot, arrived at a meeting of oak enthusiasts with a bag of acorns of Q. baloot and distributed them around. In fact there were two gatherings represented in this distribution, made at c.2100 m (Haddock 002) and 1200 m (Haddock 009), in the Swat valley (S. Haddock, pers. comm. 2006). (Enthusiasts of Edward Lear’s nonsense verse may be familiar with his poem The Akond of Swat; if not, it is to be recommended.)
As a slow-growing species, adapted to drought, heat and extreme cold, vigour is not to be expected of Q. baloot, and it will remain a tree for patient enthusiasts. A warm sunny site is indicated, but for Shaun Haddock in France it is slow even in such conditions. The specimen at the Hillier Gardens is the tallest seen for the present work, at 2.9 m (in 2008); at Chevithorne Barton it remains a small low bush. At Kruchten it has reached 1.8 m, with an open habit, and suffers only slight winter damage there (E. Jablonski, pers. comm. 2006). The only other introduction known is one made by the late Karl Fuchs in 1986. A specimen cultivated in his arboretum in the Odenwald of central Germany, which has not been damaged by the winters there, has very small, spiny leaves, resembling Q. coccifera (E. Jablonski, pers. comm. 2006).
Typical Q. baloot is well equipped to repel browsing animals, as the leaf margin is undulate and both the up- and downpointing undulations have exceptionally sharp bristles. Haddock’s collections (supported by herbarium specimens) were from populations of spiny and non-spiny trees, but the seedlings from both populations gave spiny-leaved seedlings (A. Coombes, pers. comm. 2006). Only those from the wild spiny-leaved trees survived.