Tree to 7 m. Bark grey. Branchlets light brown, initially villous, though gradually becoming glabrous. Leaves deciduous, 6–8 × 2.5–3.5 cm, elliptic, upper surface largely glabrous, lower surface villous, with tufts of hair in the axils of veins, 12–16 secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins serrate, apex acuminate; petiole with pale yellow pubescence, 0.5–0.8 cm long. Monoecious; staminate inflorescences catkin-like; pistillate inflorescences catkin-like, pedunculate, 6–8 × 1.5–2 cm, densely villous. Flowers inconspicuous; bracts imbricate and ovate, 1.5 × 0.5 cm, with four to five veins, margins slightly dentate. Fruit a nutlet with dense pubescence and prominent, longitudinal ribs. Flowering May to June, fruiting July to August (China). Rushforth 1985, Li & Skvortsov 1999. Distribution CHINA: Guizhou, Sichuan. Habitat Deciduous forest between 1000 and 1900 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7–8. Conservation status Not evaluated.
Carpinus omeiensis seems to be extremely rare in cultivation, the only plant seen in research for the current work being at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Here it has made a very attractive tree of 2 m since it was planted in 2001. The branches and twigs are spreading, not pendulous, and bear beautiful small leaves with deep veins and the central appressed pubescence that causes them to shine in strips between the veins. The main spring flush is purple, according to Dan Hinkley (Heronswood Nursery catalogue 2000), and in summer in North Carolina the new leaves are red, but then fade to mid-green. In 1985 Rushforth described his collection KR 280 from Emei Shan as a hardy and attractive tree, although he was not at that time sure of its identification. He now (pers. comm. 2006) believes it to be C. omeiensis, and reports that it is 3–4 m tall in his wood in north Devon. In this specimen the young leaves are a rich coppery red on their undersides, fading as they mature.