A group of hybrids between Q. cerris, the Turkey oak, and Q. suber, the cork oak, mainly represented in cultivation by the original Lucombe oak (‘Lucombeana’) and its derivatives. The name Q. hispanica was published by Lamarck in 1783; under it he described three oaks growing in the Trianon Garden, of which one was the Fulham oak (see ‘Fulhamensis’ below); he thought this came from Gibraltar, whence the epithet hispanica. The one he called the aegilops-leaved oak is thought to have been ‘Lucombeana’. Until recently this was known as Q. lucombeana Sweet and the various named seedlings and related forms were placed under this name as varieties. Now all must be treated as cultivars of Q. × hispanica. In the following account ‘Lucombeana’ is treated first and the others follow in alphabetical order.
‘Lucombeana’. Lucombe Oak. – A semi-deciduous tree up to 100 ft high, forming a large, rounded head of branches as much in diameter; the trunk has a corrugated bark like that of the Turkey oak, and is buttressed in the same way at the base; terminal bud furnished with linear scales; young shoots covered with grey down. Leaves oval or ovate, broadly tapered and unequal-sided at the base, with seven to nine parallel veins running out, and forming the tips of, triangular sharp teeth on the margin, 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide; upper surface glossy green, lower one covered with a close grey felt; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Fruits solitary or in pairs on a short, stout stalk, ripening the second year, 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, the acorn more than half enclosed in a cup covered with narrow, downy scales that are reflexed at the base, but erect towards the rim of the cup.
A hybrid between the cork oak and the Turkey oak raised about 1763 from seed of the latter by Lucombe, a nurseryman of Exeter, who propagated it in large quantities by grafting on Turkey oak. It is a handsome and stately tree of a distinct habit when mature, with spreading branches upswept at the ends and swollen at the base. This is well shown in the drawing of the original tree in its winter state reproduced by Loudon (Arb. et Frut. Brit., Vol. III, fig. 1712). The bark is scarcely corky and the leaves persist throughout much of the winter on the outer part of the crown. The original clone, i.e., the true ‘Lucombeana’, is comparatively rare outside the south-west, but there is a fine specimen at Kew measuring 67 × 143⁄4 ft (1965). Others outside Devon and Cornwall are: Scotney Castle, Kent, 108 × 131⁄2 ft (1971); Wilton House, Wilts, pl. 1817, 80 × 17 ft (1971); Wooton House, Dorset, pl. 1765, 76 × 16 ft (1959).
Notable specimens in Devon are: Killerton, in the Park, 88 × 161⁄4 ft (1970); Powderham Castle, 90 × 171⁄4 ft and 97 × 171⁄4 ft (1970); Castle Hill, pl. 1770, 88 × 21 ft at 4 ft (1970); Bicton, in the American Garden, 102 × 13 ft (1967); Cowley Place, Exeter, 83 × 191⁄4 ft (1967); Dartington Hall, 88 × 143⁄4 ft (1968); Saltram House, 80 × 171⁄4 ft (1970); Knightshayes, 100 × 141⁄4 ft (1959); Sharpham, Totnes, 78 × 15 ft at 3 ft (1965).
In Cornwall, the tree at Carclew mentioned by Elwes and Henry still exists. Some measurements of it are: 741⁄2 × 7 ft (1823); 100 × 13 ft (1903); 105 × 151⁄4 ft (1965). It is one of an original group of ten trees, estimated to have been planted a few years before 1775.
‘Lucombeana’ produces fertile acorns, and from these many trees have been raised which show considerable variation within the limits set by the two parent species. It is not necessary, nor indeed easy, satisfactorily to define all these variations on paper, although they are palpable enough when the trees grow together. When seedlings of ‘Lucombeana’ deviate towards the Turkey oak the bark shows little or no corkiness and the foliage is strictly deciduous. When, on the other hand, the influence of the cork oak predominates, it is evident in the corky bark and in the nearly or quite evergreen leaves. Five seedlings of the Old Lucombe oak, as it came to be known, were raised and selected in the nursery of Lucombe and Pince – three in 1762 and two around 1830. These are mentioned below. Home-raised seedlings must have been planted in many collections; and there is also the possibility that the same cross may have occurred elsewhere and been propagated (see ‘Cana Major’ and ‘Fulhamensis’).
‘Cana Major’. – This was described by Loudon, who said it was named by the Hammersmith Nursery but knew nothing of its origin. According to Elwes and Henry, it resembles two of the second-generation seedlings raised by Lucombe and Pince – ‘Dentata’ and ‘Incisa’.
‘Crispa’. New Lucombe Oak. – A corky-barked nearly evergreen form; leaves brilliant dark green above, white beneath, rather smaller than in ‘Lucombeana’ and wrinkled at the edge; habit more compact. Raised in the Exeter Nursery by Mr Lucombe junior in 1792, from seed of the original tree. According to Loudon, ‘Crispa’ had a bark about 1 in. thick. In ‘Suberosa’, another of the seedlings of 1792, the bark is twice as thick; the leaves are smaller than in ‘Lucombeana’, ovate, with rounded or sinuated mucronate teeth. The original grew by the entrance to the Exeter Nursery until 1903, when it was cut down. Elwes, who saw it shortly before its demise, considered that the tree by the Chapel at Killerton in Devon was ‘Suberosa’. The tree he had in mind still grows there and measures 87 × 15 ft (1970); it is grafted at ground-level.
‘Dentata’. – Resembling ‘Lucombeana’ in foliage, but with a corkier bark. Raised by Lucombe and Pince at the same time as ‘Diversifolia’. Not to be confused with ‘Fulhamensis’, which is also, though incorrectly, known as ‘Dentata’.
‘Diversifolia’. – Leaves of extraordinary shapes; usually the middle part of the blade is reduced to a narrow strip about 1⁄8 in. wide each side the midrib, widening at the apex like the bowl of a spoon, sometimes entire, sometimes three- or five-lobed; the base with from one to five shallow or deep, rounded or pointed, lobes. The leading types of leaves may be described as fiddle-shaped and spoon-shaped. Bark corky; habit very erect; evergreen.
This oak, although certainly of the same parentage as the Lucombe oak, is of uncertain origin. It was distributed by Smith’s Nursery, Worcester, before 1877.
An oak with similar but larger and thinner leaves is ‘Heterophylla’, which is a seedling of ‘Lucombeana’ raised by Lucombe and Pince around 1830. The leaves are 3 to 4 in. long and there is the further difference that the acorn-cups are narrowed at the base, whereas in ‘Diversifolia’ they are hemispherical.
‘Fulhamensis’ (‘Dentata’) Fulham Oak – This is a tall oak with a round head of branches more slender and graceful than those of ‘Lucombeana’ or the other varieties (see Loudon, Arb. et Frut. Brit. (1838), Vol. VII, plates 278b and c). Leaves somewhat shorter and relatively broader than in ‘Lucombeana’, ovate, about 3 in. long and 11⁄2 in. wide. Scales of acorn-cup all reflexed, except for a few near the rim.
This clone descends from a tree of unknown origin that grew in the nursery of Whitley and Osborne at Fulham – now built over. Elwes and Henry suggest that it may have been propagated from an unrecorded seedling of the original Lucombe oak. But if the Fulham oak grew in the Trianon Garden, Paris, as early as 1783 (see above), this theory is scarcely plausible. The tradition in the Fulham nursery was that it was raised there from seed but, if so, the tree growing there in Loudon’s time cannot have been the original plant, since it was grafted on common oak.
The Fulham oak was originally described by Watson under the name Q. cerris var. dentata, but the same name had been given earlier to a seedling of the Lucombe oak (see above). ‘Fulhamensis’ is in any case the established name.
‘Fulhamensis Latifolia’. – A seedling of the Fulham oak, raised and put into commerce by Osborne’s nursery shortly before 1838. Leaves elliptic, rounded at the apex, shallowly toothed, about 31⁄2 in. long, 21⁄2 in. wide.
In parts of south-west Europe an oak is found here and there which closely resembles the Lucombe hybrids and is most probably a spontaneous hybrid of the same parentage – Q. cerris × Q. suber. In Provence it is known as drouis or druino and in Italy as falso-sughero (false cork oak). In the former region it has been found in the absence of Q. cerris, but Mme Camus has pointed out in her monograph that this species was once commoner in S. France than it is at the present time. She was in no doubt that this oak is a hybrid between the Turkey and cork oaks, and treats it under Q. × hispanica. Indeed, her account of this hybrid is largely devoted to the wild trees, the Lucombe and Fulham oaks being relegated to a separate section as ‘formes de culture’.
If Mme Camus is right, the following names would fall under Q_. × hispanica as synonyms: Q. pseudosuber Santi (1795) (not Q. pseudosuber Desf., 1799); Q. fontanesii Guss.; and, probably, Q. crenata Lam.
Q. ‘Ambrozyana’. – A small, almost evergreen tree raised by Count Ambrozy in his arboretum at what is now Mlynany in Czechoslovakia, before 1909. It is near to Q. cerris, but with shorter leaves 3 to 33⁄4 in. long, ovate or oblong-ovate, with entire long-mucronate teeth, of stiff, leathery texture, persisting until spring in most years. Rehder and other authorities place it under Q. cerris, but it is more likely to be a hybrid of that species, possibly, as Schneider thought, with Q. suber, in which case it would rank as a cultivar of Q. × hispanica. There is a fine specimen in Mr Hillier’s arboretum at Jermyns House, Ampfield, Hants, probably the only one of any size in this country.