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A tree 100 or even 120 ft high in Japan, with a tall, smooth, grey trunk, 5 to 10 ft in diameter; young shoots at first slightly downy, soon becoming almost glabrous. Leaves ovate or ovate-lanceolate, 2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, long and taper-pointed, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, with six to thirteen coarse teeth at each side, each tooth with a short, slender point, dark green and furnished with short, scattered hairs above, paler and glabrous beneath; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers produced in April and May on short twigs, the males being borne two or more together at each joint of the leafless bases of the twigs, the females solitary in the axils of the leaves at the end; both small, green, and of no beauty. Fruits roundish, about 1⁄8 in. in diameter. Fading leaves often good red and orange.
Native of Japan, Formosa and probably of continental E. Asia; introduced from Japan by J. G. Veitch in 1861. Although this distinctive species is one of the most important forest trees of Japan it has not succeeded so well in this country as Z. carpinifolia. With more spreading branches than in that species it makes a less striking tree, but still elegant and interesting. In a young state it is sometimes injured by spring frost. From Z. carpinifolia it is distinguished by the taper-pointed, thinner leaves with narrower, longer-pointed teeth. It is proving susceptible to dutch elm disease.
The following examples have been recorded: Kew, 56 × 6 ft (1974); Tilgate Park, Crawley, Sussex, 60 × 63⁄4 ft (1974); Lower Sheriffs Farm, West Hoathly, Sussex, from seeds brought back from Japan in 1890, 62 × 9 ft (1976); Whitfield House, Heref., 50 × 71⁄2 ft (1973); Highnam Court, Glos., 58 × 63⁄4 ft (1970); Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 48 × 91⁄4 ft (1966).
specimens: Kew, 56 × 6 ft (1974); Tilgate Park, Sussex, 62 × 71⁄2 ft (1984); Lower Sheriff’s Farm, West Hoathly, Sussex, 62 × 91⁄4 ft (1984); Whitfield House, Heref., 42 × 81⁄4 ft, damaged by falling tree (1984); Hergest Croft, Heref., 72 × 73⁄4 ft (1985); Lower Coombe Royal, Devon, 56 × 91⁄4 ft (1977); Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 52 × 93⁄4 ft (1980).