Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Quercus Semecarpifolia

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Quercus semecarpifolia (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus semecarpifolia (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Flowering period: Late spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 30m

Eventual Spread: 20m

Hardiness: 5a – 9a

Family: Fagaceae

Quercus semecarpifolia is a slow growing evergreen to semi-evergreen tree with a rounded crown. Its dark green glossy leaves are ovate with entire margins when new, ovate with spiny margins when mature, up to 12cm long and 7.5cm broad. The hairy underside of its new leaves are orange and fully formed leaves are white. Its branches. Its trunk may achieve a diameter of up to 2.1m. Its bark is dark gray rough and scaly. Its monoecious flowers are wind pollinated and appear in dense cllusters on new shoots. Its male flowers are in the form of catkins which are up to 20cm long. Its fruit is an acorn which appear in clusters of up to 6 and are 2.5cm in diameter.

Quercus semecarpifolia, commonly known as Evergreen Oak, Kharsu Oak and Brown Oak, is native to mountainous regions of western China and the Himalayas. In its native habitat it may be the dominant species on north facing slopes and will grow up to the tree line where its habit is more shrubby.

The etymological root of the binomial name Quercus is derived from the Latin name for an Oak tree, but some authorities believe it to be derived from the Celtic quer meaning ‘fine’ and cuez meaning ‘a tree’. Semecarpifolia is derived from the Latin sem meaning ‘half’, carpasinus meaning ‘green’ and folium meaning ‘leaf’.

The landscape architect may find Quercus semecarpifolia useful as an unusual evergreen specimen tree. It needs warm summers to grow well.

Ecologically, Quercus semecarpifolia is valuable to a wide range of insects who use it as a host. Its acorns are eaten by some mammals and birds.

Quercus semecarpifolia Leaf (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus semecarpifolia Leaf (06/01/2013, Kew Gardens, London)

Quercus semecarpifolia prefers moist, deep, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate dry soils and actively prefers moist soils.

Quercus semecarpifolia  requires little maintenance. This tree is suitable of coppicing.

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