Tree to 20 m tall up to 80 cm diameter. Shoots purplish, silky hairy when young becoming glabrous. Leaves evergreen, leathery, often clustered at the ends of the shoots, narrow elliptic to narrow lanceolate, to 11 × 2 cm, tapered to the base, bluntly pointed to rounded at the tip, margin entire or with a few small teeth towards the apex, lateral veins usually 12 or less on each side. Leaves red when young, becoming dark green above, glaucous beneath and glabrous on both sides when mature. Infructescence short, to 1 cm or less, fruits usually solitary, nearly sessile. Cupules saucer-shaped to hemispherical, to 1 × 1.8 cm, with 5–6 rings of scales. Acorns obovoid to ellipsoid, to 2.5 × 1.7 cm, only the base or up to about 1/3 enclosed in the cup and ripening the first year. (Strijk 2018).
Distribution China Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hong Kong Vietnam North
Habitat On ridge tops and slopes in mature or primary tropical and subtropical evergreen forests at 500–2300 m.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9
RHS Hardiness Rating H3
Conservation status Endangered (EN)
Taxonomic note Not to be confused with Quercus bambusifolia Fortune, an invalidly published name and synonym of Q. myrsinifolia.
Quercus bambusifolia has a restricted and scattered distribution in Hong Kong’s forests where it has been planted for forest restoration (Zeng & Fischer 2020). This species has often been confused with, and regarded as a synonym of, Q. myrsinifolia, which differs in its broader, more distinctly pointed and toothed leaves with longer petioles.
A plant in the Temperate House at Kew is a propagation of the original that grew there for many years; it had to be removed during the recent renovation. It was 3.5 m tall in 2021 (S. Taylor pers. comm.). Propagations from the original were also distributed to other gardens, including Yorkshire Arboretum (where it failed to survive a year, J. Grimshaw pers. comm. 2022) and Tresco Abbey Gardens in the Isles of Scilly, UK (A. Hall pers. comm. 2021); there is no record that any survived. A plant was recorded as planted at Caerhays in the 1920s but has since died and its identity is uncertain (C. Williams pers. comm. 2021). The only other plant of this species found in cultivation was planted at RBG Melbourne, Australia in 2000 and reached 3.5 m × 6 cm with a spread of 2 m (C. Carroll pers. comm. 2021).
Described in 1857 by Henry Fletcher Hance, a British diplomat who devoted his spare time to the study of Chinese plants. In the original publication by Seemann (1857) it was listed as a synonym of Q. salicina, but the accompaying illustration labelled Q. bambusifolia Hance is considered a valid publication of the name. The common name in China, where the species is known as Cyclobalanopsis neglecta, can be translated as ‘bamboo-leaf evergreen oak’; this is the same meaning as the vernacular name in Vietnamese. The epithet implies a similarity of the leaves to those of a species of the bamboo genus Bambusa.