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Tree to 30 m, 1 m dbh. Bark greyish. Young shoots sparsely long-pubescent at first, becoming glabrous. Leaves 5-8 × 3-5 cm, mid-green above, pale green below, long-pubescent when young, especially on margins and veins below, becoming glabrous, ovate to rhombic-ovate, broadest below the middle, margins undulate, with small teeth, base cuneate to rounded or shallowly cordate, apex short-acuminate; veins 7-11 pairs; petiole 3-10 mm, slightly pubescent. Cupule c. 15mm, with dense, linear, rather fleshy awns 3-7 mm long, especially large and sometimes spathulate near the base; peduncles 5-15 mm, pubescent. (Ohwi 1965, Bean 1981, Cullen et al. (eds) 2011).
Habitat Mixed forests 300-1600 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 5-6
RHS Hardiness Rating H7
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Taxonomic note Fagus crenata has been compared with F. orientalis but differs in having the leaf broader below the middle (above in F. orientalis) and in the shorter fruiting peduncle - 15 mm vs 40 mm. (Johnson & More 2004).
The Japanese Beech is generally rare in cultivation and has probably been undervalued on account of its superficial similarity to F. sylvatica and F. orientalis. In the wild it can form a fine tree, occurring in mixed forest or as single species stands (Elwes & Henry 1906), colouring to bright rich yellowish-brown in autumn (Hukusima et al. 2013). It appears to have been introduced in the late nineteenth century, though details are sparse, and there have been sporadic collections since, including BCJMM 141, made in 2007. A few specimens have achieved respectable stature in the British Isles, with the current champion being a tree at Dawyck measured at 26 m × 0.9 m dbh (2014), with another fine specimen at Glasnevin of 25 m × 0.7 m dbh (2014) (Tree Register 2019).
Severe Grey Squirrel damage has occurred to F. crenata at the Yorkshire Arboretum, causing the removal of several specimens.