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Quercus macrolepis Kotschy

Modern name

Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis (Kotschy) Hedge & Yalt.


Q. aegilops subsp. macrolepis (Kotschy) Camus; Q, aegilops var. macrolepis (Kotschy) Boiss.; Q. graeca Kotschy

A small semi-deciduous tree usually less than 50 ft high in the wild, but taller in damp, sheltered localities, with a dark, fissured bark; buds ovoid, with long, linear stipules; young stems velvety. Leaves shed in late autumn or early spring, oval to oblong, acute at the apex, rounded, truncate or slightly cordate at the base, 212 to 3 in. long, 114 to 134 in. wide (but sometimes almost 5 in. long and up to 4 in. wide), hairy on both sides when young, upper surface eventually glabrous to the eye, lower surface covered with a persistent indumentum of short hairs, margins edged with mostly five to seven pairs of large, triangular, acute, bristle-tipped teeth, but sometimes almost entire (in which case the main veins still run out to bristles); petiole 14 to 1 in. long. Fruits almost solitary, ripening the second year; cup hemispheric, up to 2 in. wide including the scales, which are flexible, hairy on both sides, fairly thin, the lower ones short, appressed, those of the middle ranks strap-shaped or lanceolate, up to 58 in. long and 14 in. wide, spreading and often slightly reflexed, the uppermost scales longer and narrower, those at the rim usually erect and pressed against the acorn, which is ellipsoid to ovoid, up to 134 in. long, half or more enclosed in the cup.

Native of Greece, Albania, and Turkey, where it occurs both in the European part and in western, central, and southern Anatolia; cultivated in Italy and perhaps native in the south-east, where there is, or was, a fine stand at Tricase, south of Otranto; introduced to Britain in the 18th century. The remarkable feature of this oak is the size of the acorn-cups and the length of the scales. Because of their high content of tannin they were at one time an important article of commerce.

var. vallonea (Kotschy) Zohary Q. vallonea Kotschy; Q. aegilops subsp. vallonea (Kotschy) Camus – This variety, which occurs with the type in W. Anatolia, differs in the thicker, woody, angular and more spreading scales of the cup, and in this respect resembles some forms of Q. ithaburensis. The cups are as rich in tannin as those of typical Q. macrolepis.

Q. macrolepis is uncommon in cultivation and rarely develops mature fruits. The following examples have been recorded (probably belonging to the typical variety): Kew, 40 × 414 ft (1972); Syon, London, 47 × 5 ft (1966); Westonbirt, Glos., 40 × 234 ft (1967); Tortworth, Glos., pl. 1846, 50 × 5 ft (1964).

Q. ithaburensis Decne. Q. aegilops subsp. ithaburensis (Decne.) Eig; Q. aegilops var. ithaburensis (Decne.) Boiss.; Q. pyrami Kotschy; Q. aegilops subsp. pyrami (Kotschy) Camus; Q. aegilops var. pyrami (Kotschy) Boiss. – This ally of Q. macrolepis is a native of S.E. Anatolia, Syria, and Palestine, and was described in 1835 from a specimen collected on Mt Tabor. It is very variable in the size and shape of the cups and acorns, and in the cup-scales, which are thick and woody (hence differing from those of typical Q. macrolepis), but vary much in shape and posture. In one specimen in the Kew Herbarium they are thread-like – this probably represents var. dolicholepis Zohary. The leaves are mostly 2 to 3 in. long, ovate to lanceolate, rather more shallowly toothed than in Q. macrolepis.

Q. pyrami, here included in Q. ithaburensis, was described by Kotschy from the plain of the river Ceyhan (anc. Pyramus) in Cilicia (S.E. Anatolia). One of its differential characters was said to be that the leaves are often fiddle-shaped from a deep indentation below the middle. But according to Zohary, this peculiarity is met with occasionally in other oaks of the Aegilops group. It is apparently commonest on shoots of the second flush and perhaps also on young, vigorous plants. At any rate, two trees at Kew under the label Q. aegilops var. pyrami have not been observed to produce such leaves recently, except on branch-sprouts. They measure 59 × 514 ft and 47 × 412 ft (1971).

Q. aegilops L. – Linnaeus’ account of this species is so confused that most botanists have rejected the name as of uncertain application, though there can be little doubt that it was intended for Q. macrolepis or one of its allies. Mme Camus adopts the name and under it distinguishes seven subspecies, but she did not venture to suggest which of these was Q. aegilops sens, strict.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

Another synonym of this species is Q. ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis (Kotschy) Hedge & Yaltirik, which would be the correct name for it in the rank of subspecies, if the obscure name Q. aegilops L. is rejected.

specimens: Kew, Sundial Lawn, 66 × 534 ft (1985); Syon House, London, 62 × 634 ft (1982); Westonbirt, Glos., 40 × 3 ft (1983); Tortworth, Glos., 52 × 514 ft (1973); Lyndon House, Rutland, 30 × 5 ft in 1909, now 42 × 734 ft (1984); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 49 × 414 ft (1985); Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Eire, 30 × 414 ft (1985).

Q. ithaburensis – An example in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden measures 52 × 4 ft (1985).

Q. brantii Lindl. Q. aegilops subsp. brantii (Lindl.) Camus; Q. persica Jaubert & Spach – Near to Q. macrolepis but with more regularly serrate leaves. The middle scales of the acorn cups also differ somewhat in form, being rhombic in outline rather than lanceolate or strap-shaped. A native of eastern and south-eastern Anatolia, Syria, northern Iraq and Iran.

This species was named by Lindley in 1840 after James Brant, British Consul at Erzerum, who visited Kurdistan around 1839 with Edward Dickson and made a botanical collection which was sent to the Hon. William Fox-Strangeways of Abbotsbury, Dorset, and by him passed on to Lindley.

Lindley later suggested that it was this oak that featured on a translucent cylinder found by (Sir) A. H. Layard during his excavations in what is now Iraq, and figured in his famous work on Assyrian antiquities – Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (1853). Layard himself also introduced Q. brantii, sending a box of acorns to the Horticultural Society, from which plants were raised and distributed. One of these went to Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire and had borne fruits before being blown down.

Q. brantii is now in cultivation at Kew from seeds collected in the Elburz mountains of northern Iran in 1977 by Fliegner and Simmons.



Other species in the genus