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A tree 40 to 60 ft high; young shoots very stout, downy. Leaves on adult trees 6 to 10 in. long, 4 to 8 in. wide; heart-shaped, with a deep notch where the stalk joins the base, pointed, the margin regularly set with shallow, rounded, incurved, gland-tipped teeth; both surfaces are at first downy but the upper one soon becomes quite glabrous, the midrib and chief veins of a rich red; the lower surface remains downy until the fall, especially on the veins; stalk 2 to 4 in. long, round, red like the midrib. Male catkins about 4 in. long, 3⁄4 in. thick, with numerous stamens; female catkins 6 or 8 in. long when mature; see further below. Bot. Mag., t. 8625.
Native of Central China; discovered by Henry in 1888, and introduced for Messrs Veitch by Wilson in 1900. In regard to its foliage this is the most remarkable and striking of all cultivated poplars. I gathered a leaf on a small tree in the Coombe Wood nursery in October 1908, 14 in. long by 9 in. wide (without the stalk). The leaves do not decrease much in size as the tree grows older. The beauty of the leaf is also increased by the rich rhubarb-like red of the stalk and midrib. Wilson describes it as a shapely tree inhabiting moist woods. I doubt if the tree will succeed as well grafted as on its own roots; after a while there ought to be no difficulty in getting cuttings to take root. Mr Wilson told me that on one of his journeys he came to a little Chinese farm where the farmer had made an enclosure for his animals by driving stakes in the ground. These were of P. lasiocarpa, and they had taken root and grown freely.
To the above paragraph, taken unchanged from previous editions, it must be added that Wilson introduced P. lasiocarpa in the form of about a dozen small plants. Of these at least one was unusual in bearing polygamous catkins, the flowers in the basal part being staminate and those in the apical part of the catkin bisexual or pistillate. This form was among those distributed by Veitch, propagated by grafting, and seems to be the commonest in cultivation. In the nursery of Messrs Notcutt it bears fertile seed from which plants of the true species have been raised, and has even produced self-sown seedlings. But other plants are reported to be female.
What is perhaps the finest specimen of P. lasiocarpa grows in the Botanic Garden, Bath. It is 69 ft high and slightly over 61⁄4 ft in girth (1971). There are two trees at Westonbirt, Glos., measuring 50 × 3 ft and 56 × 21⁄2 ft (1967).
specimens: Westonbirt, Glos., 60 × 21⁄2 ft (1981); Bath Botanic Garden, 74 × 71⁄2 ft (1982); Combe House Hotel, Devon, 76 × 83⁄4 ft (1978); Hergest Croft, Heref., 49 × 31⁄4 ft (1985); Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Eire, 45 × 31⁄2 ft (1985).