A medium to very large tree with a broad, spreading, rounded crown, a massive trunk, and low, large, spreading branches.
Leaves alternate, simple, 6–12 inches long, 3–6 inches wide, spatula-shaped and broadest near the middle; margin with 5–9 lobes, notches shallow on the outer half but deeply cleft near the base, the notch of the two largest lobes almost reaching the central vein; lobe tips rounded; upper surface dark green; lower surface downy and pale.
Bark thick, gray-brown, deeply grooved at maturity, ridges long, flat-topped.
Twigs light brown, hairy, becoming darker and smooth with age; twigs often develop corky ridges after the first year.
Flowers April–May, in catkins.
Fruits September–October, acorns solitary or paired. Nut brown, rounded to broadest near the base, ¾–2 inches long; cup deep, hairy, enclosing ½–¾ of the nut, the scales along the edge producing a fringed or ragged mossy-looking border. Acorns edible, ripening in autumn of the first year.