A deciduous tree 45 to 50 ft high; young shoots at first silky-hairy, soon glabrous. Leaves ovate to oval, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, abruptly narrowed to a long and slender point, doubly toothed; 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide; glabrous except for a few silky hairs and axil-tufts of down beneath. Fruiting catkins loosely pendulous, 2 to 3 in. long, the bracts 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, usually three-lobed at the base, the middle lobe narrow and jagged on one side. Nutlets slightly dotted with resin.
Native of Japan; introduced in 1914, but not common in cultivation. Its distinctive points are the long slender apex of the leaf, the loose fruit raceme, and the small bracts with a long central lobe. A more common tree in gardens is the Chinese variety known as
var. macrostachya Oliver C. fargesii Franch. – This variety was discovered by Henry and introduced to Veitch's Coombe Wood nursery in 1900. It differs from the Japanese type in its bigger leaves (the larger ones 4 in. by
2 in.) and the often longer, stouter fruit-catkins up to 5 in. long by nearly 2 in. wide; the fruiting bracts are up to 1 in. in length. It is quite hardy and a good grower.
From the Supplement (Vol. V)
var. macrostachya – This Chinese variety also differs from the Japanese type in having the leaves more gradually tapered at the apex. Schneider suggested that, together with C. laxiflora var. davidii Franch., it should rank as a distinct species, for which the name would be C. fargesii Franch. Surprisingly, he did not discuss another possibility – that this Chinese hornbeam should be included in the Himalayan C. viminea, for which see this supplement.