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A tree 40 to 80 ft high, according to Wilson; young shoots soon becoming glabrous. Leaves usually distinctly obovate, sometimes nearly oval, tapered or somewhat rounded at the base, and shortly and abruptly pointed; margins set with small teeth; 21⁄2 to 51⁄2 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide; dark lustrous green, and glabrous above, paler beneath, with tufts of brown hairs in the vein-axils; veins in nine or ten pairs; stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long. Male catkins not yet seen. Fruits solitary, on axillary stalks 2 to 31⁄2 in. long; oval, about 3⁄4 in. long, 1⁄3 in. wide; “seed” with a broad thin wing.
Native of W. China; discovered by Henry in Szechwan, in 1899; introduced by Wilson in 1907. This species is very distinct from all other cultivated alders except A. lanata in its solitary, long-stalked fruits. The foliage, too, is distinct in its large size and dark, glabrous, glossy green appearance.
Although introduced by Wilson, the original stock may have died out. The present plants at Kew were raised from seeds received from Nanking in 1976/7. The species is also in cultivation from seeds collected by Roy Lancaster in west Szechwan in 1980.