A low deciduous tree or shrub, usually under 20 ft high; young shoots glabrous, stout, strongly ribbed. Leaves oval or obovate, broadly tapered at the base, rather abruptly pointed; sharply, coarsely, and unequally toothed; 4 to 61⁄2 in. long, 13⁄4 to 31⁄2 in. wide, slightly glossy, glabrous, green with a yellow midrib above; glaucous beneath and hairy along the midrib and chief veins. When young there are also appressed hairs over the whole lower surface. The leaf is strongly marked by (usually) sixteen or seventeen ribs running out from the midrib to the points of the teeth at an angle of about 45°; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, at first slightly hairy, yellow.
Native of N.E. Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Transcaucasus; introduced to Germany by Dr Dieck of Zoeschen, about 1885, but not to England until considerably later; the specimen at Kew, which is the largest and oldest in the country, came from Späath’s nursery, Berlin, in 1909. Acorns were collected in the wild by Lord Kesteven a few years earlier but there is no record of any plant from this introduction.
Q. pontica is a very striking oak, its strongly ribbed leaves sometimes as much as 8 in. long by 4 in. wide. The shoots bear conspicuously large terminal buds, whose slender scales are clothed with silky hairs. It is slow-growing, but bears fertile acorns when quite young.
The specimen at Kew referred to above measures 25 × 23⁄4 ft (1972) and there are bushes about as high at Leonardslee, Sussex, and Mount Usher, Co. Wicklow, Eire. A specimen at Castle Milk, Dumfr., measures 18 × 23⁄4 ft (1966).
Q. × hickelii Camus – A hybrid between Q. pontica and Q. robur, likely to occur when the former species is raised from seed in gardens. It grows taller and faster than Q. pontica, and has smaller buds. Leaves variable in size and shape, up to 71⁄2 by 4 in., mostly obovate, evenly tapered to a narrow, slightly auriculate base, but some leaves obovate-elliptic, and a few cuneate at the base; veins fairly spaced, up to sixteen pairs on the largest leaves, down to twelve on the smallest, prominent beneath; margins set with lobulate teeth, mostly obtuse at the apex and mucronate, some themselves toothed; deep glossy green above, paler and duller beneath, quite glabrous on both sides; petiole very short. Fruits not seen.
Q. × hickelii was described from a plant raised in France from seeds of Q. pontica collected in 1922. The above description is drawn up from a plant at Borde Hill in Sussex which came from the Aldenham collection as Q. pontica. It is a handsome oak, but no substitute for the seed-parent.