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An evergreen tree up to 80 ft high, whose bark peels off the trunk in large flakes; young shoots clothed with close grey felt. Leaves oblong-lanceolate or narrowly oval, wedge-shaped at the base, tapered to a fine slender point; margins conspicuously toothed except towards the base, 21⁄2 to 6 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, upper surface dark green soon becoming glabrous, lower one clothed with a pure white close felt which persists until the leaf falls; the veins are prominent beneath and number eight to twelve each side the midrib; stalk 1⁄3 to 5⁄8 in. long. Fruits solitary, or sometimes two or three together on a very short, felted stalk; acorns egg-shaped to conical, 1 in. long; acorn-cups 1⁄2 in. wide, enclosing about half the acorn, with appressed, whitish scales. The fruits ripen in their second season.
Native of the Himalaya, up to elevations of 8,000 ft. The oak is interesting as the almost inseparable companion in the wild of Rhododendron arboreum, and it was no doubt introduced to this country about the same time – 1815. It just misses being hardy at Kew. During a series of mild winters it will grow 7 or 8 ft high, but a fairly hard winter will cut it back to ground-level and a really hard one kill it outright. It is remarkable that so distinct and beautiful a tree – for the felt beneath the leaves is perhaps the whitest seen in cultivated oaks – should have been so long neglected in the gardens of the south and west. The whiteness of the leaves as seen from the ground and the flaking bark are very noticeable.
There is a small plant of this species at Kew on the Temperate House Terrace. The only open-ground specimen recorded is one of 46 × 31⁄4 at Trewithen in Cornwall (1971).
The Trewithen tree now measures 62 × 33⁄4 ft (1985).
Q. lanuginosa D. Don, not Lam