Quercus variabilis

17 Sep

Quercus variabilis (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus variabilis (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full Sun

Flowering period: Late winter to early spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 12m

Eventual Spread: 12m

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Family: Fagaceae

Quercus variabilis is a deciduous tree with an irregular habit. Its leathery leaves are dark green above, whitish below, elliptic with spiny margins, up to 20cm long and 8cm broad. Its branches are grey/ brown and glabrous. Its dark grey bark is deeply fissured, forming flaking platelets with age. The tree is monoecious with the male flowers in the form of yellow green catkins. Its fruit is an ellipsoid acorn, 2cm long and 1.5m broad, in a half round cup enclosing two thirds of the nut.

Quercus variabilis Leaf (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus variabilis Leaf (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus variabilis, commonly known as  Chinese Cork Oak, is native to eastern Asia including  China, Japan and Taiwan. In its native habitat it grows in mixed woodlands and occasionally in pure stands. Quercus variabilis is synonymous with Quercus bungeana.

The etymological root of the binomial name Quercus is derived from the Latin name for an Oak tree, but some authorities believe it to be derived from the Celtic quer meaning ‘fine’ and cuez meaning ‘a tree’. Variabilis is from the Latin meaning ‘changeable’.

When available the landscape architect may find Quercus variabilis useful as a specimen tree in a parkland scheme.

Quercus variabilis Bark (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus variabilis Bark (15/08/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically, Quercus variabilis acorns are eaten by mammals and some birds.

Quercus variabilis prefers moist, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Quercus variabilis requires little maintenance.

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