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Tree to 18 m, though often shrubby in cultivation. Branchlets greenish yellow and minutely pubescent, though glabrous in time. Winter buds brown and green, 0.3–0.8 cm long, resembling those of Fagus. Leaves evergreen, 3.5–17 × 1.5–3.5 cm, narrowly oblong-lanceolate to linear, immature leaves bronze-pink and glossy; mature leaves blue-grey to silvery white on the lower surface; 8–14 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins sharply serrated in the upper half, with erect or incurved teeth, apex long and acuminate; petiole 0.5–2 cm long, longitudinally grooved and slightly pubescent; stipules prominent, to 0.7 cm long, persisting for 6–14 months. Infructescence 0.5 cm long with one to two cupules. Cupule shallowly cup-shaped, 1.2 × 0.5 cm; scales in six to eight rings. Acorn rounded, with half to two-thirds of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1–2 cm long, stylopodium umbonate, surrounded by several faint rings. Flowering March to May, fruiting September to October (Japan). Muir 1996. Distribution JAPAN (incl. Ryukyu Is.); NORTH KOREA; SOUTH KOREA. Quercus salicina has been reported from Taiwan (Liao 1996), but those plants represent the closely related Q. stenophylloides (Huang et al. 1999). Habitat Montane evergreen to deciduous forest between 300 and 1000 m asl. Often on limestone hills. USDA Hardiness Zone 8. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Muir 1996; NT750.
Quercus salicina has been in cultivation in Europe for some time (Muir 1996, 1997), but has been confused with Q. glauca Thunb. As Muir has explained, the presence of a good specimen of this tree at Tortworth in Gloucestershire was persistently overlooked by W.J. Bean and his editorial successors; planted in about 1890, it reached 12.5 m tall, with a dbh of 41 cm (Johnson 2003), but has recently died. Further material has been introduced from Japan and Korea in recent decades, and the species can be regarded as being well established, in British gardens at least. It forms a rather bushy, round crown that can be as wide as it is tall, growing steadily and increasing in width as much as in height. Muir (1996) recorded that trees at the Hillier Gardens (dating from about 1977) were ‘nearly 3 m tall’, but the tallest has now reached 10.8 m (2008). The foliage is attractive, the silvery glaucous undersurface contrasting well with the dark green above, and Michael Heathcoat Amory (pers. comm. 2006) notes that the new growth is pink. As Muir commented, it has proven itself as a hardy tree in the Cotswolds and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and deserves to be more widely planted. It dislikes lime, as presumably do other related species (Hillier & Coombes 2002).