Tree to 12 m tall, sometimes shrubby. Trunk to 70 cm dbh. Bark reddish to grey or grey-brown. Young shoots brown tomentose becoming glabrous. Leaves evergreen with up to 10 pairs of lateral veins, the veins and midrib prominently raised on the leaf underside, to 6 × 2.5 cm, the apex pointed and tipped with a spiny tooth, rounded to cordate at the base, margin with up to 9 spiny teeth on each side, mostly towards the apex, sometimes entire. Bronze when young, they mature to glossy dark green above, paler beneath, and glabrous on both sides or with sparse hairs on the midrib. Petiole to 3 mm long, hairy, at least when young. Infructescences short, with up to 2 cupules. Cups shallowly cup-shaped, to 7 × 13 mm, with appressed, pubescent scales. Acorns ovoid to ellipsoid, to 1.8 × 1 cm, only the base enclosed in the cup and ripening the second year. (Huang, Zhang & Bartholomew 1999; Huang 1996; Strijk 2020).
Habitat Mountain slopes at 300–1300 m asl, often on limestone.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7
Conservation status Data deficient (DD)
Quercus tarokoensis is uncommon in gardens, but is represented by young plants in several European collections, including Arboretum Trompenburg, the Netherlands, Arboretum de Pouyouleix and Arboretum du Passadou, France, the Iturraran Botanical Garden, Spain, and Chevithorne Barton, England.
Described in 1918. The species epithet refers to Taroko Gorge in Taroko National Park, where the specimen described by Hayata was found. The name ultimately derives from a word in the Truku language (spoken in northern Taiwan) which means ‘magnificent’ or ‘beautiful’, applied in reference to the landscape (Strijk 2020).