Tree to 30 m, bark red-brown, fissured into irregular plates. Young shoots densely covered in orange-brown, becoming grey. Leaves evergreen, leathery, oblong to ovate-lanceolate, to 12 × 4.5 cm, tapered to rounded at the base, abruptly taper pointed at the apex with up to 15 veins on each side of the midrib. Margin toothed, particularly in the apical ½. Leaves bronze when young and tomentose on both sides, becoming glossy dark green and more or less glabrous above, beneath covered with a dense whitish tomentum. Petiole tomentose, to 2.5 cm long. Infuctescence to 6 cm long, tomentose, with up to 7 cupules. Cupules hemispherical, to 1 × 1.5 cm, with 6–7 rings of yellow-tomentose, shallowly toothed scales. Acorns broadly ovoid, to 2 × 1.5 cm with a blunt tip, ½ or more enclosed in the cup and ripening the second year. (Menitsky 2005; Huang et al. 1999, le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010).
Distribution China Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan
Habitat Pine-oak forests in the mountains with Pinus yunnanensis, Castanopsis delavayi, Quercus griffithii, Q. rehderiana and Q. schottkyana, at 1000–2800 m.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
A plant at Mereweather Arboretum, Victoria, Australia reached about 5 m tall × 25 cm dbh in 2021. It was grown from seed collected in Kunming, China in 1989 (Funk 2015 and pers. comm. 2021). A later introduction was made from Yunnan by Allen Coombes in 1998 (CMBS 481) and a tree at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens was 4.2 m × 10 cm in 2020 (The Tree Register 2022). This collection is also grown at High Beeches, West Sussex, England where it has reached about 3 m tall and nearly as much across (S. Bray pers. comm. 2021).
Named after French missionary and botanist Père Jean Marie Delavay who collected the specimens from which this species was described in Yunnan in the 1880s. The local name in China can be translated as ‘yellow-haired evergreen oak.’