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A deciduous tree 50 to 60 ft high, with a trunk up to 6 ft in girth; young shoots greyish woolly in the early part of the season, becoming bright brown and glabrous by autumn. Leaves firm in texture, alternate, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, rounded at the base, the apex mostly slenderly pointed, the margins coarsely toothed, ciliate; veins seven to twelve each side of the midrib, each one running out to the point of a marginal tooth, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 2⁄3 to 11⁄8 in. wide, dark dull green and harsh to the touch above, greyish beneath and downy especially on the midrib and veins; stalk very short, downy. Fruits solitary as a rule, produced from the under side of the leaf-axils, veined, very shortly stalked, roughly obovoid, 1⁄5 to 1⁄4 in. wide.
Native of central and eastern China; introduced by Wilson to the Arnold Arboretum in 1908 and to Kew in 1920, when seeds were received from Messrs Vilmorin. Although known since the last century it was originally confused with Z. serrata, to which it is indeed closely related, but has leaves with fewer lateral veins and coarser teeth. It was first described in 1916.
A plant at Kew from the introduction of 1920 measures 32 × 31⁄4 ft (1974) and there are examples of about the same size in other collections.
specimens: Kew, 30 × 31⁄2 ft, disbranched (1979); Alexandra Park, Hastings, Sussex, 50 × 5 ft at 3 ft (1983); Witham Hall, Lincs., 36 × 31⁄2 ft (1983); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 26 × 21⁄4 + 2 ft (1985).
† Z. schneideriana Hand.-Mazz. – This species, introduced to Kew in 1979, was described in 1929 from specimens collected in Yunnan and Hunan some ten years earlier. It seems to be related to Z. sinica, but the leaves are hairy beneath on the veins, relatively broader and with apiculate teeth.