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A deciduous tree 60 to 70 ft (occasionally more) high, with loose, scaly bark, young shoots slightly downy at first, becoming glabrous. Leaves obovate, 3 to 7 in. long, 11⁄2 to 4 in. wide, tapered at the base, the six to eight shallow, rounded lobes at each side often reduced to mere undulations towards the top, upper surface dark polished green, soon becoming glabrous; lower surface pale grey, clothed with a close, soft felt; midrib and stalk yellowish, the latter 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, more or less downy. Fruits borne usually in pairs on a more or less downy stalk 2 to 3 in. long; acorn about one-third enclosed in the cup.
Native of eastern N. America; introduced in 1800. Although the best of the white oaks for this country it is not a first-rate tree. At Kew it is quite healthy, the trunk very shaggy through the bark being attached in loose scales. The undersurface of the leaf on the trees at Kew is not so silvery white as it usually is in N. America, but even here the soft felt beneath renders it distinct. Its acorns are occasionally formed with us, but rarely ripen, although in nature they mature in one season.
Q. bicolor is well represented at Kew, where the largest examples in the Oak collection are 62 × 53⁄4 ft and 62 × 63⁄4 ft (1972); the former is known to have been planted in 1873. There is another of about the same size near the Japanese Gateway. Other specimens are: Syon House, London, 70 × 91⁄4 ft (1967), and Pampisford, Cambs., 75 × 61⁄4 ft (1969).
specimens: Kew, pl. 1873, 62 × 53⁄4 ft and, pl. 1905, 70 × 7 ft (1972-3); Syon House, London, 82 × 93⁄4 ft (1982); Kensington Gardens, London, 70 × 61⁄4 ft (1981).