A deciduous tree up to 60 ft high; young shoots clothed with silky hairs. Leaves narrowly ovate-lanceolate, mostly rounded or even slightly heart-shaped at the base, fine-pointed, simply or doubly toothed; 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 5⁄8 to 11⁄2 in. wide; glabrous above, silky-hairy on the midrib and veins beneath; veins in twelve to sixteen pairs; leaf-stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long, very downy. Fruit-clusters up to 2 in. long, slender; the bracts obliquely ovate, coarsely toothed, 1⁄2 to 5⁄8 in. long; main-stalk silky-hairy. Nutlet dark brown, ovoid, six- to eight-ribbed, downy.
Native of Central and W. China; discovered by Henry, introduced by Wilson to the Arnold Arboretum in 1907, thence to Kew in 1912. It is very hardy, very leafy and vigorous there and makes a handsome tree 40 ft high with a girth of 2 ft (1967). It is one of the true hornbeams (as distinct from Distegocarpus) so that the nutlet is not covered by the bracts, but partly exposed.