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Tree to 25 m, 2 m dbh. Branchlets reddish brown or grey and glabrous. Leaves deciduous, 7.5–20 × 5.5–13 cm, ovate to elliptic or obovate, upper surface glabrous, lower surface glabrous except for conspicuous tufts of tomentum in vein axils, five to seven secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins with 4–11 oblong or distally expanded lobes, terminating in spiny bristles (9–24 in total), apex acute; petiole 2–5 cm long and glabrous. Cupule solitary and sessile; thin and goblet-shaped with a pronounced constriction at the base, 1.5–2.2 × 1–1.6 cm, outer surface glabrous, inner surface pubescent; scales acute with appressed tips. Acorn broadly ovoid to ellipsoid, with one-third to half of its length enclosed in the cupule, 1.5–2.6 cm long, stylopodium persistent. Flowering March, fruiting August to October of the following year (USA). Muller 1942, Nixon 1997. Distribution USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas. Habitat Floodplains between 0 and 200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5. Conservation status Least Concern. Illustration Nixon 1997, Sternberg 2004; NT698, NT754. Cross-reference K109. Taxonomic note The name Q. texana is often used erroneously for Q. buckleyi and Q. gravesii, and the narrow application of Q. texana Buckley to this taxon, which scarcely occurs in Texas, has been much bemoaned (Nixon 1997, Lamant & Sternberg 2000) and is not always accepted: Sternberg (2004), for example, uses the name Q. nuttallii.
The confusion over the nomenclature of three red oaks all of which have borne the name Quercus texana causes problems for dendrologists visiting arboreta, where any of the three may bear a label with that name! The tree at Kew thus marked is from a collection made in Louisiana by a team from the Morton Arboretum, and is correctly identified. It is currently about 8 m tall, from accession in 1986, and has formed a rounded, small tree with attractive, deeply lobed, toothed foliage. Sternberg (2004) notes that the leaves turn a good red, but often rather late in the season, and that they may be caught by frost before turning. With its wide range in the lower Mississippi valley this is an adaptable tree, and populations in southern Illinois are particularly hardy. Acorns collected from an isolated tree in New Madrid, Missouri have given uniform progeny with outstanding red autumn colour, but which also flush purple before turning green. Their leaves are relatively coarsely lobed for this species. These trees have been given the name ‘New Madrid’ by Guy Sternberg (pers. comm. 2006), but as the name applies to numerous seedlings, New Madrid Group is to be preferred. With their comparatively northern provenance, they are very hardy. The species is closely related to Q. palustris (Sternberg 2004), but is considered to be a more useful plant for landscaping in the southeastern United States (Dirr 1998).