Downy oak, pubescent oak (Eng), roble pubescente (Spa), roure martinenc (Cat), aritza, ametz ilaunduna (Baq).
DID YOU KNOW...? In Sant Sadurní d'Anoia (Barcelona) there is a specimen of this oak crossed with a Portuguese oak. It is the symbol of an important cava producer, and appears on its labels.
This tree can be up to 25 m tall. Its crown is wide and irregular with twisted branches, and the bark is greyish-brown. The young twigs, buds and young leaves have a dense cover of short hairs. The leaves are up to 12 cm long and 6 cm wide. They are egg-shaped or elliptical, with a slightly lobed and toothed margin, and are very hairy when young. This tomentum is denser on the underside of adult leaves (this is where the tree gets both its Latin and common names), but on the upper side it practically disappears, differentiating this species from the Pyrenean oak, where the leaves remain hairy on both faces. However, this is quite a variable characteristic. The flowers appear in April or May. The male blooms grow on elongated, hanging stems (catkins). The female flowers, once mature and after fertilisation, develop into acorns with a 1 cm long stalk.
This tree lives in drier and warmer climates than other species of oaks, preferably on chalky and sometimes not very well developed soils. It typically occurs at altitudes of 500 to 1500 m. Many populations are difficult to distinguish because they hybridise with the other oaks with which this species usually coexists (particularly in the Pre-Pyrenees). This leads to a series of intermediate examples that make the botanical determination of the species very complicated. It does not sprout well from the stump and forests of this species are usually not as dense as those of other oaks, with which it often forms mixed stands. This plant needs a lot of light, its growth is average and it can live for several centuries.
This oak ranges across southwestern Asia and central and southern Europe. In the Peninsula it appears throughout the Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees, follows the Ebro river basin and reaches the Balearic Islands.