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Large shrub or rarely a small tree to 7 m, often decumbent. Branchlets glabrous, purplish brown or glaucous. Buds with two glabrous, ribbed scales. Leaves deciduous, 5–12 × 4–11 cm, obovate to cuneate, upper surface glabrous, bright yellow-green, glossy, lower surface pale green, with dense tufts of brown hair in axils of veins, six to seven lateral veins on each side of the midvein, margins doubly serrated, though serration small, apex rounded or emarginate; petiole glabrous, 0.5–1.5 cm long. Staminate inflorescences catkin-like, 6.5– 22 cm long; pistillate inflorescences in racemes of up to five, pedunculate, globose to oblong, 1.6–3 × 0.4– 0.6 cm. Cone woody, 2.5–4 × 0.6–0.8 cm, bracts 0.3 cm wide. Flowering May to June, fruiting September to October (Japan). Ohwi 1965. Distribution JAPAN: northern and central Honshu. Habitat On soils with permanent moisture, between 200 and 1000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5–6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT134.
Alnus fauriei is one of several species described here that is usually a large shrub but is capable of achieving tree-stature. Its large, broad, strongly veined leaves are its principal feature. They may be distinctly emarginate, with a notch at the tip, as in specimens growing at Howick (collected by Motowo and Yoriko Kobayashi, from Ishikawa Prefecture, Honshu), or rounded, as in trees at Stone Lane Garden (from Bambejima, northern Honshu). The large pale green stipules are also conspicuous. It is not commonly grown but there are good specimens in several British arboreta, of which the tallest recorded was one of 6.8 m in the Hillier Gardens in 2003 (but now dead) (TROBI). It is probable that most will not exceed 5 m in height, but with their multistemmed habit they could be considerably wider than this. The male catkins are a pleasing pink and grey (M. Ridley, collection notes).