A tree 45 ft or more high; young shoots glabrous. Leaves up to 1 ft or more long, with the main-stalk grooved on the upper side and made up of five to eleven leaflets which are narrowly ovate to oblong, long-pointed, broadly wedge-shaped or almost rounded at the base, toothed, 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, dark green and glabrous above, hairy close along the midrib and base of the chief veins beneath, shortly stalked. Fruits oblanceolate, tapering from near the end (which is often notched) to the base, 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. long, 3⁄16 to 5⁄16 in. wide.
Native of Japan. It is a member of the section Ornus and is usually stated to belong to the typical subsection, in which the flowers have petals. There is no material at Kew which throws light on this matter, but it should be noted that Franchet and Savatier (Enum. Pl. Jap., Vol. 2, p. 435) stated that in all their specimens the flowers lacked petals and merely suggested, without adducing any proof, that the absence of the petals was due to their having dropped soon after the flower expanded. Furthermore, this ash is almost certainly the same as the species treated by Ohwi (Fl. Japan, 1965) under the name F. japonica Bl., and this is said to have flowers without petals. It should be added that, despite the elucidation of the true nature of F. spaethiana, the nomenclature of the Japanese ashes of the Ornus section remains problematic, owing to the existence of so many names of uncertain application. The ash described above is generally supposed to be the one that Blume called F. pubinervis, but in Ohwi’s work this name appears with a query among the synonyms of F. longicuspis var. latifolia Nakai.
There is a grafted tree at Kew received from Späth’s nurseries under the name F. pubinervis but it has not been seen in flower and its identity is uncertain.