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A deciduous tree up to 60 ft high, with very stout young shoots and leafstalks covered with a thick, soft, greyish down that becomes dark, and persists through the second season; buds clothed with slender, hairy stipules 3⁄4 in. long. Leaves broadly obovate, tapered at the base, the margin conspicuously cut into seven to eleven rounded lobes down either side, each lobe 1⁄2 to 1 in. deep, sometimes with one to three teeth on its lower side. The largest leaves are 6 in. long and 4 in. wide, the smallest half as large, green, with minute hairs above, pale beneath, and clothed with soft down; stalk 1⁄2 to 5⁄8 in. long. Fruits scarcely stalked; acorns about 1 in. long, the lower half enclosed by a cup which is covered outside with erect, lanceolate, downy scales.
Native of the Caucasus and Transcaucasus, and of N. Iran (in the forest region south of the Caspian). It is one of the most distinct of the oaks of western Eurasia, with large leaves equalling Q. frainetto and Q. canariensis in that respect, but distinct from them in the densely downy shoots and undersurface of the leaves. A further distinction is that in neither of those species do the buds bear persistent stipules. Q. macranthera is quite hardy and occasionally produces fertile acorns in this country.
The date of introduction was given in previous editions as 1895, this being the year in which a plant was received at Kew from Späth’s nursery, Berlin. But William Barron and Son listed it in their catalogue for 1874, with no mention of its being a novelty, and the trees at Westonbirt are certainly older than any at Kew, and are believed to have been planted around 1878. The measurements of these are: in Mitchell Drive 80 × 63⁄4 ft (1972), in Broad Drive 60 × 7 ft (1967). Some others recorded recently are: Kew, pl. 1895, 47 × 31⁄4 ft (1965) and pl. 1908, 62 × 41⁄4 ft (1972), both in the Oak collection; Caerhays, Cornwall, 52 × 43⁄4 ft (1971); East Bergholt Place, Suffolk, 50 × 33⁄4 ft (1972); Jephson Park, Leamington, 46 × 4 ft (1971); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, three specimens of almost equal size, the largest 52 × 6 ft (1970).
specimens: Kew, in Oak Collection, pl. 1908, 66 × 5 ft and 56 × 33⁄4 ft (1986); Borde Hill, Sussex, 60 × 51⁄4 ft (1983); Sheffield Park, Sussex, Queen’s Walk, 74 × 73⁄4 ft (1979); Westonbirt, Glos., Mitchell Drive, pl. c. 1878, 95 × 71⁄2 ft and, in Broad Drive, 74 × 8 ft (1979–80); Stratford Park, Stroud, Glos., 52 × 63⁄4 ft (1984); Hidcote Manor, Glos., 66 × 7 ft (1983); Melbury, Dorset, 66 × 10 ft (1980); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 73 × 61⁄2 ft (1985).
This species was described by Bean (B493, S412) and Krüssmann (K96).
This subspecies forms a small tree, 7–10 m, with leaves 5–10(–12) × 3–5 cm with five to nine short regular lobes. The leaves are dark green and glabrous or sparsely pubescent above and densely covered with yellowish brown stellate pubescence below; the petiole is tomentose, 0.5–2 cm long. The cupule is 1.5 cm diameter, light brown with ovate-lanceolate scales, and covers one-third to half of the acorn. Subsp. syspirensis differs from the typical subspecies in that the stipules persist only on the terminal bud rather than on all buds. Subsp. macranthera is generally larger in all parts, and is found in the Caucasus and northern Iran. Hedge & Yaltirik 1994. Distribution TURKEY. Habitat Oak-pine woodland on dry slopes between 1000 and 1900 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Ertas 1995.
As seen in the United Kingdom, plants of this subspecies might well be named ‘uninspirensis’; those observed for the present work are really rather dull and uninteresting in appearance. The largest is a specimen of 5.3 m (2008) at the Hillier Gardens, from TURX 124, collected in 1991 in Zonguldak Province, Turkey, which appears to be growing steadily. In mitigation of this view, however, Eike Jablonski (pers. comm. 2006) points out that it is a slow-growing tree, suitable for small gardens and rock-garden planting.