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A deciduous tree to about 80 ft high, with a smooth, light grey bark; twigs densely yellow-tomentose at first, slowly becoming glabrous. Leaves of firm texture, broad-ovate or ovate-elliptic, acuminate at the apex, oblique and rounded to cuneate at the base, 3 to 51⁄2 in. long, softly downy beneath, short-stalked. Fruits orange, about 1⁄2 in. wide.
A native of central China; described from a specimen collected by Wilson in western Hupeh, where according to him it is fairly common in open country and on the margins of woods between 2,000 and 4,300 feet altitude. ‘In winter and early spring the large red-brown flower-buds which densely stud the branchlets make the tree quite conspicuous. In autumn the large, globose, orange-coloured fruits are very attractive’ (Wilson).
Wilson introduced it to the Arnold Arboretum in 1907, but apparently it never reached this country, nor has it made its mark in the USA. Young plants are now in cultivation here (1985).
Tree to 30 m, dbh 15 cm. Branchlets dark brown with dense yellowish brown pubescence; at maturity, bark grey. Stipules absent. Leaves deciduous, 6–13 × 3.5–8 cm, elliptical to ovate, leathery to papery, upper surface smooth, lower surface distinctive, with dense, golden pubescence (sometimes limited to the veins), four to six secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins dentate to entire, apex acuminate; petiole furrowed, 0.7–1.5 cm long, covered in dense, golden pubescence. Flowers arranged in densely clustered cymes. Infructescences unbranched, coated in dense yellowish brown pubescence, 0.7–1.5 cm. Fruit solitary, ellipsoidal to globose, 1.1–1.4 cm diameter, purple, orange-yellow or brown. Flowering March to April, fruiting September to October (China). Fu et al. 2003. Distribution CHINA: southern Anhui, Fujian, northern Guangdong, Guizhou, southern and western Henan, western Hubei, northwest Hunan, Jiangxi, southern Shaanxi, northern Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang. Habitat Forested slopes and valleys between 300 and 1300 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 5–6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Fu et al. 2003. Cross-reference K307.
Although Celtis julianae is available commercially both in Europe and in North America, there are few large specimens in collections. The finest seen in research for this book is a 4 m individual planted in 2003 at the JC Raulston Arboretum, which has obviously grown very fast. The long, new shoots arch outwards and blow in the breeze, giving an elegant appearance to the tree. The foliage is noted for its attractive golden-brown hairs, especially when young. Like many other Celtis it thrives best in areas with hot summers: it does well in New Zealand (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2006).