A deciduous tree up to 70 or 80 ft high in the wild; young shoots and leaves covered with stellate scurf. Leaves obovate, three-lobed with a wedge-shaped base, or more ovate and five- or seven-lobed, 4 to 7 in. long, 31⁄2 to 5 in. wide, the terminal lobe mostly oblong, 2 to 31⁄2 in. long, the side ones shorter, triangular, or scythe-shaped – often furnished with a few bristle-teeth. The upper surface is dark glossy green, the lower one dull grey and more persistently downy; stalk 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, slender. Fruits very shortly stalked, acorns about 1⁄2 in. wide and long, the cup shallow or saucer-shaped.
Native of the eastern and south central United States; introduced in 1763, but extremely rare. According to Sargent, the two forms of leaves occur sometimes on the same tree, sometimes on separate trees.
var. pagodifolia Elliott Q. pagoda Raf.; Q. rubra var. pagodifolia (Elliott) Ashe – This is a very well marked variety, treated as a species by Camus and perhaps deserving subspecific rank. The lobing is more regular than in the typical variety, the lobes being in three to five pairs, spreading more or less horizontally. It is most plentiful in the lower Mississippi basin but also occurs in the Atlantic states, usually in bottomlands.