W. Bartram ex Willdenow, Sp. Pl. 4(1): 443. 1805.
Laurel oak, Darlington oak
Trees , evergreen or tardily deciduous, to 35 m. Bark much like that of Q . laurifolia . Twigs light brown to dark red-brown, 1-2.5 mm diam., glabrous. Terminal buds reddish to purplish brown, ovoid, 2.5-5 mm, glabrous or with ciliate scale margins. Leaves: petiole 1-5(-6) mm, glabrous. Leaf blade narrowly ovate or elliptic to oblanceolate, 30-120 × 10-40 mm, leathery, base obtuse to rounded, rarely attenuate, margins entire or with a few shallow lobes or teeth near apex, awns 1-4 (rarely as many as 8-10 on 2d-flush growth), apex acute or acuminate, occasionally obtuse; surfaces abaxially glabrous, rarely with minute axillary tufts of tomentum, adaxially glabrous. Acorns biennial; cup saucer-shaped to bowl-shaped, rarely turbinate, 3-10 mm high × 11-18 mm wide, covering 1/4-1/3 nut, outer surface puberulent, inner surface pubescent at least 1/2 distance to rim, scales occasionally distinctly tuberculate, tips appressed, acute to obtuse; nut broadly ovoid to hemispheric, 9-16 × 9-16 mm, glabrate, scar diam. 6-9.5 mm.
Flowering spring. Moderately dry sandy soils, scrub sandhills, stream banks, occasionally on hillsides and ravines; 0-150 m; Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.C., S.C., Tex., Va.
Quercus hemisphaerica flowers about two weeks later than sympatric Q . laurifolia (W. H. Duncan and M. B. Duncan 1988).
Most authors have treated Quercus hemisphaerica as synonymous with Q . laurifolia . M. L. Fernald (1946) carefully examined the situation and concluded that Q . hemisphaerica is a distinct entity, but C. H. Muller (1951) argued that these two taxa "...are now certainly not separable even as varieties of the same species." Later (1970), Muller recanted by recognizing Q . hemisphaerica as a common component of stream terraces along the Gulf Coast.
Quercus hemisphaerica reportedly hybridizes with Q . falcata (C. H. Muller 1970); with Q . arkansana , Q . inopina , Q . marilandica , Q . myrtifolia , Q . nigra , Q . phellos , Q . pumila , and Q . shumardii (D. M. Hunt 1989); and with Q . incana (producing Q . × sublaurifolia Trelease), and Q . laevis (producing Q . × mellichampi Trelease).