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Tree to 16 m. Bark grey. Branchlets dark greyish brown, initially pubescent, though gradually becoming glabrous. Leaves deciduous, 5–10 × 2.5–4 cm, primarily lanceolate, rarely elliptic, upper surface villous along the midrib, lower surface with tufts of hair in the axils of veins and villous on the vein surface, 14–18 secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins irregularly double-serrate with mucronate tips, apex acute, acuminate or caudate; petiole with dense yellow pubescence, to 1 cm long. Monoecious; staminate inflorescences catkin-like; pistillate inflorescences catkin-like, pedunculate, 5–8 × 2–2.5 cm, with dense, yellow pubescence. Flowers inconspicuous; bracts imbricate, 1.6–2 × 0.6–0.8 cm, with five veins, margins dentate, surface covered in yellow pubescence. Fruit a nutlet with brown or orange resin glands and prominent, longitudinal ribs. Flowering May to June, fruiting July to August (China). Rushforth 1985, Li & Skvortsov 1999. Distribution CHINA: Xizang, Yunnan. Habitat Subtropical forest, sometimes on limestone, between 1700 and 2800 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 8. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Li & Skvortsov 1999; NT206.
Carpinus monbeigiana was apparently first introduced by a Sichuan Expedition team (Fliegner, Howick, McNamara & Staniforth), under the number SICH 1208. This seed was gathered at c.2460 m in Zhaojue County, Sichuan in October 1992, from a 5 m tree growing amongst rich broadleaf forest on a north-facing slope. Resultant seedlings at Kew have made small, rounded bushy trees up to 6 m tall, with multiple upright stems. The shoot tips weep attractively. At Quarryhill, where plants from the same collection have been placed in a hot site, the largest is now approximately 9 m tall, by 5.5 m wide, with multiple strong upright leaders, furnished with foliage to the ground (H. Higson, pers. comm. 2006). In the wild it was noted to turn yellow, but the leaves on the Kew trees were falling when merely a faded green in October 2006. It looks suitable for use as a lawn specimen, but the largest tree at Kew has had very severe squirrel damage. It is not fully hardy at Rogów, where trees are grown from a collection made at Chang-Hua, Zhejiang Province in 1987 (P. Banaszczak, pers. comm. 2007). Carpinus monbeigiana has also been collected and distributed in North America by Steve Hootman (SEH 1208).