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Quercus × turneri Willd.

Modern name

Quercus × turneri Willd.

A supposed hybrid between Q. ilex and Q. robur, raised before 1780 in the nursery of Mr Spencer Turner, Holloway Down, Essex, in the latter half of the 18th century. It is a tree of spreading habit, growing sometimes over 50 ft in height, with foliage which persists through the winter until February or March, according to the mildness or otherwise of the season. But even after the mildest winters the tree, so far as I have seen, is always destitute of foliage for some weeks. The young shoots are clothed with a dense pale down. Leaves leathery, oblong-obovate to almost elliptic, mostly rounded but unequal at the base, bluntish at the apex, and with four to six rounded lobes on each margin, 212 to 412 in. long, 34 to 134 in. wide; dark green and glabrous above, paler beneath and downy at the base, also on the midrib and veins. Female inflorescences up to 6 in. long, with numerous flowers, all save the basal one or two abortive. Fruits on a stalk 1 to 2 in. long; acorns about 34 in. long, the lower half enclosed in a cup with downy, erect, appressed scales.

The above is a description of Turner’s oak as usually represented in gardens and grown under the name Q. turneri both in this country and the Continent since early in the 19th century. However, it is not quite the same as the oak originally described by Willdenow (see below), and has to be known as Q. × turneri ‘Pseudoturneri’. According to Schneider, who first distinguished it from typical Q. × turneri, it was also known as Q. austriaca sempervirens.

Q. × turneri was described by Willdenow in 1809 from a plant growing in a conservatory in the Berlin Botanic Garden, which had been bought from Loddiges’ nursery in England. Judging from his description and figure, and from the leaves from the type specimen preserved at Kew, typical Q. × turneri had shorter, relatively broader leaves, with smaller teeth, each terminating in a minute mucronate tip. However, there is a later specimen at Kew collected in 1863 from what was almost certainly the same tree, which by then was growing in the open ground. The leaves had become larger and for the most part relatively narrower, in fact not so very unlike those of ‘Pseudoturneri’. It is possible that Turner raised two plants, both of which were propagated. Or it might be that the original tree bore both types of foliage and that its offspring by grafting varied according to the shoot from which the scions were taken. The possibility that seedlings had been raised from the original tree by the early 19th century can be ruled out as an explanation, since no tree had even flowered by 1838, according to Loudon, and the Berlin tree had still not flowered up to 1863. But acorns had been borne by 1880 on a tree of ‘Pseudoturneri’ at Kew. A seedling raised from it produces both the short, broad ‘typical’ leaves and the longer, narrower ones characteristic of ‘Pseudoturneri’.

A tree at Whiteknights near Reading, considered by Elwes and Henry to represent typical Q. × turneri, measures 57 × 1012 ft (1971). A specimen of ‘Pseudoturneri’ grows at Kew not far from the old Ginkgo. It is probably the one received around 1865 under the name Q. austriaca hybrida (Gard. Chron., Vol. 14 (1880), p. 714, as Q. glandulifera, with which it was at first erroneously identified). It is a dense tree with a bark resembling that of the holm oak parent, grafted at ground-level and measuring 50 × 1312 ft at 1 ft (1965).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Kew, near old Ginkgo, 59 × 1614 ft at 1 ft (1984), Pagoda Vista, 58 × 712 ft and, Syon Vista, 50 × 914 ft (1981); Osterley Park, London, 58 × 10 ft at 3 ft (1982); Rivers’ Nursery, Sawbridgeworth, Herts., 62 × 1212 ft (1984); Notcutt’s Nursery, Suffolk, 50 × 914 ft (1980); Eastnor Castle, Heref., 87 × 12 ft (1984); Bicton, Devon, 77 × 1212 ft (1983).



Other species in the genus