Tree to 15 m. Bark greyish-brown, striated when young. Young shoots more or less glabrous, with long internodes, green with white lenticels, becoming brown later, terminal buds conspicuous, bright green. Leaves 23–30(–60) cm, dull mid-green, paler below, with narrow ridges at sides, pubescent; rachis pubescent; leaflets 7–17, lateral leaflets elliptic or elongate-elliptic, 9–21 × 3–6 cm, base oblique, cordate, apex acuminate, glabrous except for veins and whitish tufts of hairs in vein axils below; petiole 4–8 cm. Infructescence 45–70 cm, axis tomentose. Nutlets 7–9 mm, tomentose, wings elliptic-rhomboid, 2–3 × 2–2.5 cm (Lu et al. 1999).
RHS Hardiness Rating: H5
It is not always clear whether cultivated trees labelled P. macroptera represent this variety, or var. insignis. Fruiting material and ideally provenance are required for identification. It is very clear, however, that var. macroptera is by far the less common. A tree originating from Gansu was received at Kew as a seedling from the Chinese Academy of Forestry in 1979, and is almost certainly correctly identified as var. macroptera. Planted out in 1983, it was a shapely tree 8–9 m tall when seen in 2003; in July 2003 it was almost completely defoliated (probably the result of hot, dry weather), but it recovered in subsequent seasons (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009), and by 2010 had reached 11 m × 22 cm (The Tree Register 2019). A moist situation would seem preferable.