Tree to 25 m tall, trunk 60 cm diameter. Bark grey, smooth on young trees becoming fissured and flaking with age. Young shoots covered in a pale brown tomentum which soon falls leaving them glabrous. Leaves evergreen, leathery, oblong-elliptic to lanceolate-elliptic or oblanceolate, to 15 × 4 cm, tapered to the base, pointed to abruptly short-acuminate at the apex, margin slightly recurved, entire or few a few small teeth towards the apex. The leaves are covered in a pale brown tomentum on both sides soon becoming glabrous, glossy dark green above, paler beneath. Petiole up to 1.5 cm but often less than 1 cm. Infructescenses to 1.5 cm with several cupules. Cupules hemispherical, to 1.2 × 1.8 cm with 5–7 rings of grey-brown tomentose scales. Acorns ellipsoid, to 1.5 × 2.4 cm, about 1/3 enclosed in the cup and ripening the first year. (Huang et al. 1999; le Hardÿ de Beaulieu & Lamant 2010).
Distribution China Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Zhejiang Japan Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu Taiwan
Habitat Mixed mesophytic forests in mountains; 1000–1700 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Quercus sessilifolia was introduced from Japan in 1990 (Costin & Lancaster 178A, gathered in Honshu as Q. acuta). At the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens a tree from this collection was 8 m × 18 cm diameter at 1 m in 2020 (The Tree Register 2021). At Penrice Castle, Wales there are two trees raised from seed from Koishikawa Botanic Gardens, Tokyo University, the largest 3 m in 2021 (T. Methuen-Campbell pers. comm.). Smaller plants are at Nymans and Chevithorne Barton (The Tree Register 2021) and Cambridge University Botanic Garden (2021). At Arboretum des Pouyouleix, France, a plant deriving from a collection made by Thierry Lamant in Taiwan was 3 m tall with two stems each 3 cm dbh in 2020 (B. Chassé pers. comm.). At Arboretum de la Bergerette, France it has reached about 8 m tall in 2019 (pers. obs.). There is a tree about 8 m tall at Arboretum Chocha, France in 2019 (pers. obs.). Three plants are recorded at Arboretum Trompenburg, Netherlands. There are also plants from Taiwan seed at Arboretum Iturraran, Spain deriving from a 2015 collection by Béatrice Chassé, the largest about 5 m tall (F. Garin pers. comm. 2021). A 3 m individual of Q. sessilifolia, derived from seed from Hangzhou Botanic Garden, grew in Nantes Botanic Garden, France but this had to be removed in 2020 due to fungus in the area (F. Saboureau pers. comm. 2021.)
This species is close to and can be confused with the more common Q. acuta but can be distinguished by its shorter petioles and recurved leaf margins.
The specific epithet derives from the fact that Blume described the leaves as ‘subsessilibus’ (subsessile). The local name in Japan, tsukubanegashi, refers to the similarity of the young leaves of this oak to those of Buckleya lanceolata, named tsukubane in Japan (gashi = ‘evergreen oak’). The local name in Chinese can be translated as ‘cloud-mountain evergreen oak’.