A tree 40 to 50 ft high, with a scaly, furrowed bark; young shoots slightly hairy at first; terminal winter buds large, 5⁄8 in. long. Leaves 21⁄2 to 51⁄2 in. long, 11⁄2 to 31⁄4 in. wide; taper-pointed, deeply heart-shaped at the base, unequally or doubly toothed; hairy on the midrib above, more so beneath; stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Male catkins 1 to 2 in. long, the scales linear, 1⁄6 in. long, silky-hairy. Fruit-catkins 3 to 5 in. long, 11⁄2 in. wide; the bracts closely overlapping, ovate, sparsely and sharply toothed, 1 to 11⁄8 in. long, with one side doubled over. The nut is covered partly by this infolded portion, but more completely by a lobe of the bract attached to the base at the other side.
Native of Japan; introduced in 1879 by Maries for Veitch’s nurseries. Sargent considered it to be the finest of the Japanese hornbeams but in this country it is of rather slow growth and not common. The best tree at Kew measures 29 × 13⁄4 ft. It is very distinct from its ally, C. japonica, in the large, deeply cordate leaves and big winter buds, but is similar in the curious way the nut is protected by basal portions of the bract infolding over it.
var. chinensis Franch. – Native of E. Szechwan, China; introduced by Wilson in 1901. It differs from the Japanese type in having smaller, narrower leaves, and in the young shoots being more hairy.