There is always a shortage of evergreen oaks, with most gardeners in the UK simply opting for Holm oak (Quercus ilex) or, in the southern United States, Live oak (Quercus virginiana). But there is another oak that actually has more ornamental character than either of these and will grow in both the US and the UK. This alternative is the Loquat leaf oak, or Quercus rhysophylla. Loquat leaf oak is native to northeast Mexico and, despite this origin, has proven to be quite hardy in the UK and is successful across the southern half of the United States.
Loquat leaf oak is an upright, fast growing tree that can eventually reach about 60 feet tall with a spread of 40 feet in warm areas but considerably smaller in most garden conditions. Being evergreen it makes a splendid screen or barrier, and provides year round shade. It has other assets though that really set it apart from most evergreen oaks. Foremost of these is drought tolerance. Once established it can take full sun in low rainfall conditions while maintaining its impressive foliage. This makes it a natural choice for xeriscaping and ideal for the American southwest and Australia. But its showiest feature would have to be its striking spring foliage. The leathery, corrugated leaves emerge a uniquely beautiful reddish-purple that is quite showy against the older, glossy green foliage. And late flushes of growth in mid-summer has the same, vivid purple color making this unusual oak a particularly striking garden tree.
Loquat leaf oak can tolerate alkaline to acidic soil and will do well in full sun. It is disease and pest free and would require very little pruning if any. It is rare and hard to come by, but worth the effort and worthy of much more use. As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.


Loquat leaf oak

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