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Quercus variabilis Blume

Modern name

Quercus variabilis Blume


Q. bungeana Forbes; Q. chinensis Bunge, not Abel

A deciduous tree up to 80 ft high, with a thick, corky bark; young shoots slightly hairy. Leaves oblong or narrowly oval, 3 to 7 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, broadly tapered or somewhat rounded at the base, pointed, the margins set with bristle-like teeth 110 in. long, which terminate the nine to sixteen pairs of parallel veins; upper surface dark dullish green, glabrous; lower one pale grey and covered with a minute close felt.

Native of China, Japan, and Korea; introduced by Fortune in 1861, and in 1882 by Dr Bretschneider; in both instances from the neighbourhood of Peking, where it is a common tree. Although a finer tree than its near ally, Q. acutissima, its foliage is not so bright. It differs from that species most noticeably in the whitish undersurface and smaller teeth of the leaves. The acorn also is smaller and almost hidden in the cup, which has long curly scales. The bark has some economic value as a source of cork. On young trees it is blackish at first, and is not long before it shows its corky nature.

Q. variabilis is represented at Kew by several trees of which the oldest is from the Bretschneider introduction of 1882. This measures 48 × 334 ft (1973). Two others were raised from seeds collected by Wilson in W. Szechwan in 1908 during his Arnold Arboretum expedition, the larger 39 × 314 ft (1972). Others are: Borde Hill, Sussex, in Stonepit Wood, 30 × 3 ft (1967); Caerhays, Cornwall, 30 × 312 ft (1966) and a smaller tree, pl. 1923, raised from seed collected by Forrest in Yunnan (F.22256).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Kew, Bretschneider introduction, pl. 1882, 48 × 334 ft (1973), Wilson reintroduction, 49 × 312 ft (1978); Borde Hill, Sussex, Stonepit Wood, 42 × 334 ft and 66 × 412 ft (1981-3); Hollycombe, Liphook, Hants, 62 × 5 ft (1984); Caerhays, Cornwall, 42 × 414 ft (1984); Werrington Park, Cornwall, 50 × 6 ft (1977).

There is a young specimen of this oak at Kew from seeds collected in South Korea in the area north of Seoul, where it is common and, as seen, attains about 60 ft in height (B. E. & C. 231).



Other species in the genus