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Large shrub or tree to 20 m, 1 m dbh. Crown broad and spherical. Bark greyish or reddish brown. Branchlets with grey or greyish brown tomentum. Leaves deciduous, 7–15 × 3–8 cm, obovate to elliptic, both surfaces covered with yellowish grey stellate hairs, 8–12 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins undulate to serrate, apex obtuse to acuminate; petiole 0.3–0.5 cm and yellowish brown-pubescent. Infructescence 1–4 cm long with two to four cupules. Cupule cup-shaped, 0.4–0.8 × 0.8–1.1 cm; scales ovate to lanceolate, crowded. Acorn ovoid to ellipsoid, with one-third of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1.7–2.5 cm long, stylopodium persistent. Flowering April, fruiting October (China). Huang et al. 1999, Menitsky 2005. Distribution CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, southern Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang. Habitat Mixed forest between 20 and 2000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Huang et al. 1999, Menitsky 2005; NT722. Cross-reference K87.
Although a native of mixed forest through much of southern China, Quercus fabri is scarce in cultivation in Europe, only a few young plants being found in the important oak collections. With its large leaves, the overall appearance of the species is similar to that of Q. mongolica subsp. crispula or Q. dentata. At present it is too early to assess its potential in cultivation. In October 2005 a specimen at the Hillier Gardens (from Rippin 167, collected in Yunnan in 1999) had been badly insect-damaged and seemed to be struggling, though by 2008 it had reached 3.5 m. The species apparently fares better in continental Europe, young trees from Eike Jablonski’s 1999 collection from Yunnan thriving throughout Germany and up to 1.5 m tall in 2006 (E. Jablonski, pers. comm. 2006). There are larger specimens in the United States, one observed at Starhill Forest Arboretum being 7–8 m tall in 2006. The tree has nice glossy leaves that are paler below. Guy Sternberg (pers. comm. 2006) says that it has never shown signs of winter damage.