Quercus variabilis
Common Name: Chinese cork oak 
Type: Tree
Family: Fagaceae
Native Range: China, Japan, Korea
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 75.00 to 90.00 feet
Spread: 60.00 to 75.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Insignificant
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 5-7 where it is best grown in rich, moist, well-drained loams in full sun. Grows well in sandy loams. Tolerates some part shade but not full shade.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Quercus variabilis, commonly called oriental oak or Chinese cork oak, is a medium to large deciduous tree with an open crown that typically grows to 75-90' tall. It is particularly noted for its thick, furrowed, corky, yellowish-gray bark which is not only ornamental but can also be commercially harvested for production of cork. It is native to forested areas of China, Japan and Korea. Simple, chestnut-like, ovate-lanceolate to narrow-elliptic leaves (to 6” long) are usually broad-cuneate at the base. Each leaf has 13-18 pairs of parallel side veins each of which ends at the leaf margin in a tiny spinose (bristle-like) tooth. Leaves are rich green above and white tomentose beneath. Ornamentally insignificant monoecious flowers (females in clusters and males in dangling catkins) bloom in April-May. Female flowers are followed by small subglobose acorns (to 5/8” diameter). Each acorn is enclosed within a subulate scaly cup which covers about 2/3 of the acorn. Acorns ripen in September-October of the following year.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees.

Specific epithet is in reference to the variable appearance of plant leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Oaks in general are susceptible to a large number of diseases, including oak wilt, chestnut blight, shoestring root rot, anthracnose, oak leaf blister, cankers, leaf spots and powdery mildew. Potential insect pests include scale, oak skeletonizer, leaf miner, galls, oak lace bugs, borers, caterpillars and nut weevils.


Shade tree. Woodland gardens.