Loquat Leaf Oak
BOTNANICAL NAMES: Quercus rysophylla. Synonym: Lithocarpus rotundatus Loquat leaf oak is a Mexican species of oak in the red oak section. It is native to the Sierra Madre Oriental in the States of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, and Hidalgo in northeastern Mexico. The name is often incorrectly spelled Q. rhysophylla.
HABIT: Large, fast growing evergreen shade tree tree. Shiny blue-green loquat-like leaves are lanceolate, up to 8” long. Grows to 60 feet with a spread of 40 feet. New growth comes out in the spring before the old growth completely kicks off.
CULTURE: Easy to grow shade tree for full sun with normal water and fertility requirements. It does need good drainage and should not be over-watered. USDA Zone 7-10. Does well in acid as well as neutral to alkaline soils. Propagation is from seed; direct sow outdoors in fall. This plant has been seen growing in the following regions: Dallas, Houston and Richmond, Texas, San Antonio, Texas, Spring, Texas and Nacogdoches, Texas. Cultivar 'Maya' is very hardy and recommended for cooler climates. Once established, it does well in full sun with low rainfall conditions.
PROBLEMS: It is disease and pest free and requires very little pruning if any. It is rare and hard to come by, but worth the effort and worthy of much more use. It will not be found in most nurseries but more likely in specialty, mail-order nurseries.
USES: It has excellent drought tolerance that makes it a natural choice for xeriscaping and ideal for the American southwest and Australia. But its showiest feature is its striking spring foliage. The leathery, corrugated leaves emerge a reddish-purple that is quite showy against the older, glossy green foliage that remains for a while after the new foliage emerges. Late flushes of growth in mid-summer has the same, vivid purple color.
NOTES: With a shortage of evergreen oaks, most gardeners in the UK opt for Holm oak (Quercus ilex). In the southern United States, Live oak (Quercus virginiana). This tree gives both the US and the UK a terrific alternative. Although native to northeast Mexico it has proven to be quite hardy in the UK and is successful across the southern half of the United States.