Quercus floribunda

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Local names:
English (moru oak,holly oak,green oak), Hindi (tiloj,moru,mohroo), Nepali (thinke,sano phalant,sano pate phalant,phalant,belekharmendo), Trade name (barungi)

Quercus floribunda is a large evergreen tree with a dense crown of shining green foliage, a diameter of up to 1.6 m and a straight bole of up to 45 m long. Bark turning dark grey or dark reddish brown with age and exfoliating in irregular woody scales. The moru oak is the largest of the western Himalayan oaks and it is one of six species of Quercus found in Himalayan regions.

Leaves shiny green, lanceolate to elliptic, 4-8 cm long, acuminate, with the veins branching short of the margin; margin spiny or smooth; leaves hairless beneath.  Margin entire or spinous serrate, coriaceous, glabrous when mature.

Male catkins crowded, drooping, lax, up to 7.5 cm long, bracts lanceolate. Female spikes short, to 4 cm long, styles 3-5, linear-clavate.

Fruit an acorn, solitary on previous year’s shoots, ovoid or oblong, with a fine point, about twice as long as the cup, about 2 cm long, brown.

Ecology

Its natural range of distribution is the temperate region of the western Himalayas from Nepal westwards at altitudes of 2100-2700 m, descending to about 1700 m in cool moist areas. Although found on all aspects, it avoids very dry situations and favours moist, cool locations on northerly aspects with deep and fertile soil  but on shallow gravelly soils, the tree is stunted. It tends to regenerate in dense pure patches, and to grow gregariously in crops of varying extent. It is frequently found scattered in mixtures with coniferous and broad-leaved trees.  It is frost-hardy but does not tolerate drought.

Native range
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan

Tree management

Q. floribunda tolerates shade, coppices well, grows without a massive root system and, therefore, is not wind firm. Under natural conditions seed germinates well soon after falling during and after the summer rains from August to October. It is planted at a spacing of 1.5 x 1.5 m for production of clean stems, as the tree tends to develop strong branches. Seedlings are drought sensitive and growth is moderately fast. A number of insect and fungal pests attack this species. In Jaunsar in India plantations (direct sown) averaged 4.3 m in height after 20 years, which is slow. It tolerates side shade when young, but growth of older trees is better in the open.  Best growth is on well-drained clay loam, and on shallow gravelly soils growth becomes stunted.  The tree is frost-hardy, but early frosts sometimes kill the seedlings.  It does not tolerate drought.  It coppices well, until the tree is about 10 cm in diameter; trees larger than this coppice poorly in many localities.

The seed ripens between August and October, and under natural conditions germinates soon after falling.  In a good seed year abundant young natural seedlings will be found near to the seed-bearers, but many may die off during the next dry season, if exposed to the sun.  In moist shady places dense thickets of seedlings may develop. Seed storage is intermediate and seeds weigh 500-600 seeds/kg.  When stored in sealed tins under cool dry conditions, it can remain viable for up to one year.

Its natural range of distribution is the temperate region of the western Himalayas from Nepal westwards at altitudes of 2100-2700 m, descending to about 1700 m in cool moist areas. Although found on all aspects, it avoids very dry situations and favours moist, cool locations on northerly aspects with deep and fertile soil  but on shallow gravelly soils, the tree is stunted. It tends to regenerate in dense pure patches, and to grow gregariously in crops of varying extent. It is frequently found scattered in mixtures with coniferous and broad-leaved trees.  It is frost-hardy but does not tolerate drought.

This species can be cultivated successfully either by direct sowing or by transplanting from the nursery. Germination under nursery conditions commences in about 10-14 days and is complete in 5-6 weeks. Seedlings are ready for planting out in about 2 years. Its forests are worked, along with its coniferous associates, under selection felling. However, in view of its natural tendency to regenerate in even-aged masses, the concentrated working and system of successive regeneration felling would be preferable to selection working.

Fodder: Young plants and coppice shoots are readily browsed, particularly by goats. Leaves contain 9.6% crude protein, with a digestibility coefficient of 44%.  The total digestible nutrients are 43.2. The trees are extensively lopped for fodder.

It is a good fuelwood and is used for making charcoal.

Timber:  Sapwood thin, grey while heartwood is russet to pale greyish brown with darker streaks, very hard, strong and heavy (wood weighs about 970 kg/cu. m). It has a straight grain but uneven texture, is difficult to season and work. In the western Himalayas, it is used for structural building construction, railway sleepers, dunnage pallets, tool handles, heavy-duty flooring, agricultural implements and door and window frames as well as for fuel and charcoal.

Tannin or Dyestuffs: Leaves contain up to 9.8 % tannin and have been recommended as a source of tannin material.