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A deciduous tree to 70 ft high in the wild, with a greyish-white bark peeling in papery flakes; branchlets yellowish grey or greyish brown. Leaves broad ovate, 13⁄4 to 23⁄4 in. long, with eight to ten pairs of veins, abruptly tapered at the apex to a blunt point and with a wedge-shaped or rounded base; margins sharply and coarsely toothed; downy beneath on the midrib and main veins. Fruit-bearing catkins ovoid to globose, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long; lobes of scales very narrow and edged with fine hairs, the lateral ones shorter by a half or a third than the middle lobe.
A rare birch, found here and there in the mountains of central Japan. It is scarcely known in cultivation in this country, but there are young trees at Kew, planted in 1957. It is well distinguished by the short, thick fruit-catkins.