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A deciduous tree 20 to 40 ft high, forming a low, spreading head of rugged branches; bark divided into small, squarish blocks; young shoots covered with scurfy stellate down, becoming shining grey the second year. Leaves broadly obovate, tapered to a narrow, rounded or wedge-shaped base, broad and three-lobed at the apex, the lobes sometimes shallow and little more than undulations, sometimes broad, deep oblong, each with subsidiary lobes or teeth terminated by a bristle. The leaves vary from 2 to 7 in. long, and are nearly or quite as much wide, upper surface dark polished green, at first covered with stellate scurf; lower surface paler, with conspicuous lines and tufts of down along the midrib and veins; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Fruits solitary or in pairs on a short, thick, downy stalk; cup one-third to two-thirds the length of the acorn, which is about 3⁄4 in. long.
Native of the eastern United States; introduced early in the 18th century. Occasionally its leaves turn rich red in autumn, but more often brown. It is a slow-growing and comparatively dwarf oak, but its foliage is striking. The three-lobed form of leaf in Q. falcata is rather like the above, but has a slender stalk twice or more than twice as long.
specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 58 × 51⁄4 ft and 50 × 31⁄4 ft (1980); Osterley Park, London, 65 × 4 ft (1982); Castle Milk, Dumfr., 50 × 21⁄2 ft (1984).