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A tree 60 ft or more high in nature, the trunk clothed with curling flakes of papery bark, giving it a curious, ragged appearance; bark at first warm brown; young shoots sparsely downy, thickly covered with glandular warts. Leaves ovate, 2 to 4 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide; broadly wedge-shaped or almost straight across at the base, pointed, coarsely and unequally toothed; dark green and glabrous above, downy beneath along the midrib. Veins six to eight pairs; leaf-stalk about 1⁄2 in. long.
Native of Manchuria, N. China, and Korea; introduced to Kew by Dr Bretschneider in 1882, but not a species of much promise, having a failing common to trees of this region in starting early into growth and being cut back by frost. In upland country it would, no doubt, thrive better. In the curious ruggedness of its bark it resembles B. nigra. The present example at Kew is twenty-five years old and about 25 ft high; it is reasonably hardy.
This species, rare in cultivation, is represented at Hergest Croft, Herefordshire, by a tree measuring 98 × 8 ft (1985).