A large tree in the forests of Japan, with elegant drooping branches; young shoots covered with scurfy hairs, later glabrous. Leaves leathery, ovate to oblong, 2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, tapered or somewhat rounded at the base, the apex drawn out into a slender, bluntly ended tip; margins undulately toothed near the apex or entire; upper surface dark, shining green, the lower paler and covered with fine scales which give it a metallic sheen. Acorns sessile, borne six to ten together on a common stalk; involucre more or less globose or ovoid, made up of several rows of downy scales, almost completely enclosing the nut and splitting into two or four valves.
Native of Japan, where it is common from Tokyo southward, and also of China; introduced by Maries for Veitch’s nurseries in 1879. According to Siebold, acorns were successfully transported by him to Europe in 1830 by encasing them in clay. Although apparently quite hardy near London, it gives no promise of attaining its natural dimensions here. At Caerhays Castle in Cornwall it has made a tree measuring 37 × 3 ft, on a bole of 12 ft; on Garinish Island, Eire, it is represented by a large shrubby specimen 25 ft high, on two stems each 21⁄2 ft in girth. But even at a smaller size it makes an elegant evergreen shrub.
cv. ‘Variegata’. – Leaves smaller than in the type, rarely more than 2 to 21⁄2 in. long, with a broad regular margin of creamy yellow; sometimes the whole of one side of the midrib is of that colour. It is not so hardy as the green type, but was once used for greenhouse decoration. Introduced by Maries in 1879.