A noble deciduous tree over 120 ft high, with a trunk occasionally more than 6 ft in diameter; winter-buds all furnished with long, linear, downy stipules; young shoots covered with a close, greyish down. Leaves thin and hard in texture, oval or oblong, tapered at both ends, very coarsely toothed or lobed, the lobes penetrating one-third to two-thirds towards the midrib; normally 21⁄2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 3 in. wide, but very diverse in shape, size and lobing, dark lustrous green and harsh, with starry down above, dull greyish green and closely covered with similar down beneath, with seven to ten pairs of veins; stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Fruits usually solitary, ripening in their second season, very shortly stalked; acorns 1 to 11⁄4 in. long, depressed at the apex; cup clothed with long, linear, downy scales.
Native of southern Europe and parts of central Europe, from S.E. France through the southern Alps and the Apennines, the Balkans, E. Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the Carpathians of Rumania; represented by a subspecies in Asiatic Turkey; in cultivation by 1735. It is a very hardy tree attaining to dimensions under cultivation nobler than those of most introduced trees. As a timber tree it has very little value, being much inferior to the common oak. As a purely ornamental tree, however, for avenues, etc., it has some points in its favour, being quicker-growing and more elegant in growth.
Perhaps the finest example of the Turkey oak in Britain grows at Knightshayes, Devon; its measurements are 128 × 231⁄2 ft (1970). At Mamhead in the same county the Turkey oak has been cultivated since before 1749 and there were several specimens there in 1835 80 to 100 ft high and 12 to 15 ft in girth (at ground-level). The largest there now measures 82 × 231⁄4 ft (1963). Other notable specimens are: St Anne’s Court, Chertsey, Surrey, 65 × 261⁄2 ft (1965); Beauport, Sussex, 102 × 153⁄4 ft, with a 40 ft bole (1965); Ombersley Court, Worcs., 110 × 171⁄4 ft (1964); Bulstrode Park, Bucks, 110 × 201⁄2 ft (1967); Nettlecombe, Som., 100 × 191⁄2 ft (1959); Powderham Castle, Devon, 111 × 193⁄4 ft and 105 × 201⁄2 ft at 4 ft (1970); Strete Ralegh, Devon, 117 × 111⁄2 ft (1970).
The old Turkey oak at Kew near the Orangery, planted around 1762, was damaged by bombing during the second world war and had to be felled in the winter of 1972-3. It measured 82 × 15 ft in 1967.
var. ambrozyana (Simonkai) Rehd. – See under Q. × hispanica.
var. austriaca (Willd.) Loud. Q. austriaca Willd. – In this variety, said to be prevalent in south-eastern Europe, the leaves are edged with regular, entire, triangular lobes, and are greyer beneath than in the typical state.
f. laciniata (Loud.) Schneid. Q. cerris var. laciniata Loud. – Leaves lobed almost to the midrib, often much narrower than in the type, between which and this variety are several intermediate forms.
subsp. tournefortii (Willd.) O. Schwarz Q. tournefortii Willd. – According to Dr Schwarz the distinguishing characters of this subspecies, found in Asiatic Turkey, are: leaves permanently grey tomentose beneath, with nine to fifteen pairs of veins and leaf-stalk 3⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. long; cup larger than in the European race, 5⁄8 to 11⁄4 in. wide.
cv. ‘Variegata’. – Leaves bordered by a white band of varying width, which penetrates here and there to the midrib. A rather effective variegated tree.
Q. × libanerris Boom – A hybrid between Q. cerris and Q. libani described from a tree growing in the Trompenburg Arboretum, Rotterdam. It differs from Q. cerris in having the lateral buds without stipules; young shoots glabrous; leaves very glossy above, glabrous beneath, with ten to sixteen pairs of shallow lobes terminated by long bristle-tips.