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A vigorous tree to about 80 ft high, resembling T. americana in its glabrous branchlets and buds, and in the shape, size and toothing of the leaves, but differing in the undersurface of the leaves, which is sparsely coated with stellate down and lacks axillary tufts. It was put into commerce by the German nurseryman Späth in 1883, and named by him in honour of the famous General Moltke, who planted a tree outside Späth’s house in 1888, next to a specimen of T. tomentosa, planted by Bismarck. Späth considered it to be a hybrid between T. americana and T. tomentosa, but the rather pendulous habit suggests that the second parent was T. ‘Petiolaris’, to which it is inferior as an ornamental. It is no longer much planted either here or in Germany.
Recorded examples are: Kew, 66 × 6 ft (1971); Stratfield Saye, Hants, 77 × 8 ft (1968); National Botanic Garden, Glasnevin, pl. 1888, 72 × 6 ft (1975).
Two of the three specimens at Kew measure 70 × 61⁄2 ft (1982) and 80 × 9 ft (1985). The specimen of ‘Spectabilis’, in the Lime Collection near the Victoria Gate, pl. 1872, is 80 × 53⁄4 ft (1979) and the only other large specimen recorded is at Talbot Manor, Norfolk, pl. 1948, 50 × 51⁄4 ft (1978).