Carpinus viminea Lindl.

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New Trees

A small tree in the wild, with slender, drooping branches; branchlets glabrous, white-lenticellate when mature. Leaves up to 5 in. long and 2 in. wide, ovatelanceolate, tapered at the apex to a slender point, glabrous when mature, finely and doubly serrate (simply so on the 'tail'); veins in ten to twelve pairs; petiole slender, about 12 in. long, glabrous. Fruiting catkins 3 to 6 in. long; bracts oblique, about 34 in. long, the broader side deeply toothed, lobed at the base (though the lobe sometimes not much larger than the teeth above it), narrower side more or less entire, with a distinct lobe at the base. Nutlets glandular.

A native of the Himalaya from the Punjab eastward, mostly on the outer ranges, where it ascends to about 8,000 ft. Beyond the Himalaya it extends through upper Burma to Yunnan and perhaps into central China (see this supplement under C. laxiflora). So far as is known, C. viminea is not in cultivation and might prove to be tender.

C. viminea and C. laxiflora are allied, both having fruiting bracts which are less unequal-sided than in the east Asiatic species clustering around C. pubescens and C. tschonoskii, and with basal lobes on both sides. In this respect they resemble the American C. caroliniana, with which Berger groups them in his informal classification.

From New Trees

Carpinus viminea Lindl.

Syn. C. fargesii Franch., C. laxiflora var. macrostachya Oliv.

Tree to 20 m. Bark dark grey. Branchlets brown and glabrous. Leaves deciduous, 6–11 × 3–5 cm, elliptic, oblong or lanceolate, upper surface glabrous, lower surface sparsely pubescent along the veins, sometimes with tufts of hair in the axils of the veins, 12–15 secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins double-serrate, teeth mucronate or bristle-like, apex acute, acuminate or caudate; petiole sparsely pubescent or glabrous, 1–3 cm long. Monoecious; staminate inflorescences catkin-like; pistillate inflorescences catkin-like, pedunculate, 5–15 × 2.5–3 cm, sparsely pubescent. Flowers inconspicuous; bracts imbricate, ovate to lanceolate, 1.5–3 cm long, with four veins, margins coarsely dentate. Fruit a nutlet with prominent, longitudinal ribs. Flowering April to June, fruiting July to September (China). Rushforth 1986b, Li & Skvortsov 1999. Distribution BANGLADESH; BHUTAN; CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, northern Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang; INDIA: Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim; MYANMAR; NEPAL; NORTH KOREA; SOUTH KOREA; THAILAND; VIETNAM. Habitat Subtropical, broadleaved forest between 400 and 2000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 8–9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Li & Skvortsov 1999; NT212, NT976. Taxonomic note Clarke (1988) suggested that the tree known to dendrologists as C. laxiflora var. macrostachya (see B509, S144, K282) should be included in C. viminea, and while describing C. viminea indicated that it was not in cultivation under this name. The inclusion of C. laxiflora var. macrostachya in the synonymy of C. viminea is now well accepted (for example, Govaerts & Frodin 1998, Li & Skvortsov 1999), but for clarification and to discuss new introductions a full description is given here.

Carpinus viminea has a very wide range, but tends to be a species of lower altitudes, so provenances from high altitude in the northern part of its range should be sought. Most introductions have originated in China, including two specimens grown at Wakehurst Place since 1988, derived from Chinese botanical gardens seedlists. Another, from the 1986 Hangzhou Botanical Garden seed distribution, has done extremely well for Roy Lancaster in Hampshire, being now a shapely 6 m tree with a spreading crown of almost pendent shoots. Its foliage emerges bronze-purple or reddish in spring, and it has fruited every year since 2000 (R. Lancaster, pers. comm. 2006). There are several young specimens at Howick, collected in southern Hunan in 1996 (QPH 96/45). According to Charles Howick (pers. comm. 2005), these are probably at the limits of this species’ tolerance in the United Kingdom, and have been very slow-growing. When seen in June 2005 they formed low bushy plants and were just coming into leaf, with red tints on the new growth. Carpinus viminea has also recently been introduced from Nepal (HWJK 2413), where the parent tree was found at c.1900 m in 2002: it was praised by Dan Hinkley for its coppery new growth and long fruits (Heronswood Nursery catalogue 2005). It would seem wise to give this, as also several other of the Asian hornbeams, a sheltered, warm site if they are to perform well.

Carpinus viminea fruiting in Roy Lancaster’s garden, Hampshire. Image R. Lancaster.