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A small tree to 40 or 50 ft, or a shrub, with a smooth, brown bark. Leaves with nine to fourteen pairs of veins, ovate or oblong-ovate, up to 3 in. long, obtuse or somewhat rounded at the apex, silky on the upper surface and on the veins beneath; leaf-stalk to 1⁄3 in. long. Fruiting catkins 4⁄5 to 11⁄5 in. long; scales edged with silky hairs, the lateral lobes making a narrowly acute angle with the middle one and about one-third as long.
A native of Yunnan; discovered by Forrest in the Lichiang range in 1910. In the Edinburgh Botanic Garden there is an example 20 ft high from F. 15357, collected in 1918, and two others, 20 and 25 ft high, raised from seed sent by the Chinese collector Yü around 1937 (10561). These latter, Dr Fletcher tells us, are remarkable for their smooth, polished-looking, purplish-brown bark.
The trees in the Edinburgh botanic garden mentioned under this species have been re-identified as B. albo-sinensis. It is uncertain whether the true species is in cultivation.