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A small tree, or a large shrub, sometimes found in a wild state as a scrubby bush; young shoots covered with fine silky down. Leaves ovate, 1 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 1 in. wide; rounded or slightly wedge-shaped at the base, pointed; sharply, regularly, and prettily double-toothed; veins in twelve to fifteen pairs; dark glossy green above, with silky down on both surfaces of the midrib; stalk hairy, 1⁄3 to 1⁄4 in. long. Male catkins 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Fruit clusters 13⁄16 to 23⁄8 in.; bracts ovate, unequal-sided, 5⁄8 to 7⁄8 in. long, 1⁄2 in. wide, coarsely and irregularly toothed, but not lobed. Nut 1⁄6 in. long, exposed.
Native of S.E. Europe and Asia Minor; introduced in 1735 by P. Miller. It is abundant on some of the battlefields of the Crimea as low scrub, and, as I have been told by an officer who took part in the Crimean war, much impeded some of the advances of our men, made under cover of darkness. It has not much to commend it to the notice of planters in this country except as being an interesting rarity. The largest specimen at Kew, and probably in the country, is 50 ft high with a girth of 53⁄4 ft (1960). It was planted in 1878. In Finsbury Park, London, there is a specimen measuring 35 × 33⁄4 ft (1955).
Its small leaves and the unlobed bracts of the fruit clusters distinguish it from C. betulus and C. caroliniana.
specimens: Kew, pl. 1878, a tree on three stems and about 36 ft high and, pl. 1908, 53 × 41⁄4 ft (1972).
† C schuschaensis Winkl. – This is at most a small tree, and often a dwarf, thicket-forming shrub. It differs from C. orientalis in having larger leaves and bracts that are obscurely lobed at the base. It is possibly the result of hybridisation between C. orientalis and C. betulus. Introduced by Mrs Ala and Roy Lancaster from the Elburz mountains of Iran in 1972.