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Carlos collecting Quercus ×alentejana (Q. faginea × Q. pyrenaica) in northeastern Portugal for his PhD thesis © Carlos Vila-Viçosa
An interview with Portuguese oak conservationist Dr. Carlos...
Amy Byrne | Apr 19, 2024
Roderick Cameron | Apr 13, 2024
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It was a great pleasure for me to be able to write about my...
Gert Fortgens | Feb 15, 2024

Plant Focus

Quercus crassipes acorns with inrolled cupule margin
One of the more well-known Mexican oaks in cultivation.

Cultivar Close-Up: Quercus 'Maya' and 'Zehra'

There are a growing number of unique hybrid selections that feature Quercus rysophylla as one parent. Quercus rysophylla is apparently quite prone to outcrossing with other Lobatae section oaks, or maybe it just seems that way as most of these selections have come out of cultivated collections. In any case, the two selections featured here are a couple of the older cultivars, but two newer selections, Q. ‘Belle d’Aquitaine’ (selected by Béatrice Chassé from a plant growing at Arboretum des Pouyouleix, France) and Q. ‘Chocha’ (selected by Francisco Garin from a plant at Jardín Botánico de Iturraran, Spain), exist as well, and you can read up on all of these in greater detail in the 2015 International Dendrology Society Yearbook article by Allen Coombes.1

Maya leaves
New growth on Quercus 'Maya' © Dirk Benoit

Quercus ‘Maya’ is a medium-sized evergreen tree grown for its ornamental immature leaves which emerge bright pinkish-red and slowly turn a glossy green. Of the Q. rysopyhlla hybrid selections, ‘Maya’ is most like its known parent species, differing notably in the variable lobed and toothed margins of its leaves.

Maya scan
Quercus 'Maya' leaves, showing variable lobing and toothed margins © Dirk Benoit

‘Maya’ was originally received as a seedling at Bömer Nursery, Zundert, the Netherlands, from Mallet Court Nursery, UK. ‘Maya’ has been offered by European nurseries such as Bömer Nursery and Pavia Nurseries, Belgium. In addition to its spring color and overall beauty, it has become popular in Europe for its hardiness. ‘Maya’ was designated as ”Best Novelty” at the Groot Groen exhibition in Zundert, the Netherlands in 2006.

Zehra leaves
Quercus 'Zehra' in Pavia Nursery © Dirk Benoit

Quercus ‘Zehra’ is a tree of medium size, grown for its ornamental evergreen habit. Leaves are unique in that they typically display three prominent lobes reminiscent of Q. falcata, and subsequent observations have suggested that Q. falcata could be the other parent. It was discovered at Karaca Arboretum, Yalova, Turkey during a 2002 IOS tour. Though labeled as Q. rysopyhlla, it was of obvious hybrid origin. Scions were sent to Pavia Nursery where it was propagated and named ‘Zehra’ after the daughter of the late Hayrettin Karaca, owner of Karaca Arboretum.

Zehra scan
Quercus 'Zehra' leaves, with typical Q. falcata lobing © Dirk Benoit

This selection has proven hardy to temps as low as -29 °C.2 The ortet of ‘Zehra’ grew originated in the US, but exact origins are unclear. It is possibly a sister seedling to a hybrid at Rosemoor Gardens, Devon, UK also thought to be a Q. rysophylla × falcata. Ultimate size is unknown, but the original plant at Karaca Arboretum is over 10 m tall.

Quercus Chocha
Quercus 'Chocha' at  Jardín Botáncio de Iturraran. It is a seedling from the large tree of Q. rysophylla growing at Chocha, Ustaritz, France, the property of Michel Duhart. It is thought that the most likely pollen parent was Q. rubra but it could also have been Q. palustris or Q. texana. © Francisco Garin

1 Coombes, A. 2015. Tree of the Year: Quercus rysophylla Weath. International Dendrology Society Yearbook 2015: 22-52.

2 Chassé, B. 2013. Taking Oaks to the Limit in the Czech Republic. International Oaks 26: 77-88.