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Lord and Lady Aldington
Owen Johnson (2022)
Johnson, O. (2022), 'Carpinus monbeigiana' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Tree to 16 m. Bark grey. Twigs dark grey-brown, densely hairy at first but becoming glabrous. Leaves lanceolate to elliptic, 5–10 × 2–4 cm; upper surface with silky hairs along the midrib; lower surface with tufts of hair in the vein axils and veins with dense silky hairs; lateral-veins in 14–18 pairs; margins irregularly but rather distantly double-serrate with mucronate tips; petiole with dense yellow pubescence, c. 1 cm. Fruiting catkins 5–8 cm long, with a peduncle of 1.5–2 cm densely covered in yellow hairs; fruit-bracts D-shaped, 1.6–2 cm long, with dense yellow hairs along the veins, the curved side coarsely dentate, the straight side entire except for an auricle at the base which clasps the nutlet; nutlet sparsely hairy but with dense brown to orange resinous glands, and prominently ribbed. (Li & Skvortsov 1999).
Distribution China Xizang, Yunnan, S Sichuan
Habitat Mountain forests, sometimes on limetstone, 1700–2800 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7-8
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Heinrich von Handel-Mazzetti’s 1924 name for this hornbeam commemorates the French missionary Jean Théodore Monbeig-Audrieu, who botanised in northern Yunnan, China, around the start of the 20th century. The species’ introduction to the west was much more recent: at Rogów in Poland material was grown from a collection made in Zhejiang Province in 1987 (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009), but this is a plant from largely subtropical forests and it did not prove fully hardy here. Another collection was made in 1992 by a Kew-led expedition to Sichuan (SICH 1208), in Zhaojue County, to the north of the species’ distribution as described in the Flora of China (Li & Skvortsov 1999). Plants from this collection are hardy enough to have made healthy and attractive trees at Kew, to 8 m tall by 2022, and also grow at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex and Sandling Park in Kent (Tree Register 2022). The seed was shared with the Sonoma Botanical Garden in California, where planted in hot sun one seedling was already 9 m tall by 2006 (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009). Autumn colour in the wild is described as yellow, but at Kew the leaves tend to drop when still green (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009); the habit is domed, with the slender branches and elegantly hanging shoots of many hornbeam species. The dense, yellowish or rusty felt of hairs on the shoots and under the lateral veins are distinctive. Another collection with a confusingly similar standard abbreviation – SHE 1208 – was made by the American botanist Steve Hootman and was commercially available in the UK around 2006 from Ian FitzRoy (Royal Horticultural Society 2006). In 2022, this species did not seem to be advertised in the UK but was offered by Pépinière des Avettes in France (Pépinière des Avettes 2021) and by De Bloeimeesters in the Netherlands.