A tree 80 to 100 ft high; young shoots brown, warty, not downy; the bark of the older wood and trunk orange-brown, becoming ultimately grey or whitish. Leaves heart-shaped, pointed, 3 to 6 in. long, three-fourths as wide; doubly toothed, dark green, downy at first, ultimately glabrous above, downy in the vein-axils beneath; veins in ten to twelve pairs; stalks 1 to 13⁄4 in. long. Male catkins 4 or 5 in. long. Fruiting catkins 2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 in. wide, in racemes of two to four; scales glabrous, middle lobe longer and narrower than the side lobes. Seed-wings large. Bot. Mag., t. 8337.
Native of Japan. There were several introductions of this birch at the end of the nineteenth century: to the Arnold Arboretum in 1893 and thence to Kew; by Veitch in 1888; and by Lemoine of Nancy, who supplied the tree at Grayswood Hill, planted in 1894. This fine birch is distinguished by the leaves being larger than those of any other species. I have measured them 7 in. long by 5 in. wide. The habit of young trees is rather open, and the branching stiff. It is a quick grower, very hardy, and altogether one of the best of its kind. Very distinct in its large leaves and racemose female catkins.
Good specimens of this birch are not common, but the following have been recorded: Kew, by Brentford Gate, pl. 1895, 40 × 21⁄2 ft (1960); Westonbirt, Glos., off Mitchell Drive, 55 × 3 ft and 56 × 4 ft (1966); Leonardslee, Sussex, 58 × 3 ft (1961); Grayswood Hill, Surrey. pl. 1894, 57 × 6 ft (1964), and another about 60 ft high, six-stemmed from the base; Killerton, Devon, 60 × 5 ft (1960); Headfort, Co. Meath, Eire, 57 × 33⁄4 ft (1966).