A tree up to 70 ft high, with a thick brownish or greyish bark divided into more or less rectangular blocks, or occasionally a shrub; winter-buds ovoid, more or less downy; young stems covered at first with greyish or whitish hairs. Leaves rather leathery, usually persisting on the tree through the winter, variable in shape, oblong or elliptic, sometimes ovate-elliptic or oblong-obovate, mostly 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. wide, but sometimes larger, obtuse to rounded at the apex, cordate, rounded or truncate at the base, the upper surface sparsely stellate-hairy at first, becoming glabrous and grey-green, undersurface more or less densely grey-felted beneath, sometimes almost glabrous when mature, margins fairly regularly set with acute, mucronate teeth; lateral veins usually four to twelve in number, more or less parallel and mostly running out to the teeth; leaf-stalk about 3⁄8 in. long, tomentose. Fruits ripening the first year, borne singly or in pairs on a peduncle about 1⁄2 in. long; cup hemispherical or urn-shaped, with appressed tomentose scales; acorn oblong-ovoid, about one-third to one-fifth enclosed in the cup, about 1 in. long.
A native of Spain and Portugal, and possibly also of N. Africa (see below); introduced in 1835. It is an exceedingly variable species in the size, shape, and toothing of the leaves. The above description includes the subsp. broteri (Coutinho) Camus, with leaves permanently felted beneath, as well as the more glabrous typical subspecies. Q. faginea is closely allied to Q. canariensis, which is included in it by some botanists. But in Q. canariensis the young leaves and stems are covered with a brownish flock, traces of which remain throughout the growing season, and are never felted, and the teeth are more like lobes and obtuse to rounded.
The following specimens of Q. faginea have been recorded: Kew, in Oak collection, pl. 1931, 46 × 3 ft (1972) and another of 49 × 51⁄4 ft (1972); Osborne House, Isle of Wight, pl. 1847, 49 × 51⁄4 ft (1972); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, pl. 1919, 49 × 43⁄4 ft (1967) and another of 47 × 43⁄4 ft (197o).
Q. tlemcenensis (A. DC.) H. del Villar Q. faginea var. tlemcenensis (A. DC.) Maire; Q. faginea subsp. tlemcenensis (A. DC.) Maire & Weiller; Q. pseudosuber var. tlemcenensis A. DC.; Q. pseudosuber Desf., not Santi – In N. Africa oaks are found which are intermediate between Q. faginea and Q. canariensis, and for this reason some botanists have united the two species, distinct though they are in their typical states. These intermediates are probably the result of past hybridisation and are best treated as a distinct species. The alternative, if Q. faginea and Q. canariensis are kept separate, is to treat these intermediates as varieties of one or the other species.
A fine example of Q. tlemcenensis grows in the garden of Capt. Collingwood Ingram at Benenden, Kent, raised from seed collected by him in Morocco. It is a handsome, vigorous tree with leaves up to 43⁄4 in. long and almost 2 in. wide, elliptic or elliptic-oblong, still in mid-August coated beneath with a film of white hairs and edged with blunt, shallow, lobe-like teeth; veins in seven to eight pairs, all running out to teeth.