A tree said to be 15 to 20 ft high in the wild, shoots glabrous, dark brown. Leaves broadly obovate or ovate, 2 to 5 in. long, 11⁄4 to 3 in. wide; heart-shaped or rounded at the base, the apex abruptly slender-pointed, unequally and sharply toothed; upper surface with flattened hairs on and between the nerves when young; lower surface slightly glaucous with silky hairs on the midrib and veins; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, silky-hairy, glandular on the upper side. Male catkins 2 to 3 in. long. Nuts in clusters of three to six, the husks covered with slender branching spines, the whole cluster forming a prickly ball like that of a sweet chestnut.
Native of China, and apparently widely spread in the regions bordering Tibet; introduced by Wilson for Messrs Veitch in 1901, but obtained in France by Maurice de Vilmorin three years previously. Its most distinctive character among cultivated hazels is the prickly burs that enclose the nut clusters. In this respect it is closely similar to C. ferox Wall., a Himalayan species with narrower, more oblong, longer pointed leaves and less spiny burs. Perhaps more tender and not in cultivation. There is a fine specimen of C. tibetica in the Glasnevin Botanic Garden which makes a narrow spire 48 ft high, with a trunk
31⁄4 ft in girth (1966).