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Plagianthus betulinus A. Cunn.

Modern name

Plagianthus betulinus A.Cunn.

A deciduous tree from 30 to 40 ft high in New Zealand, with a trunk sometimes 3 ft in diameter. In a young state its growth is remarkably elegant, consisting of a mass of slender, tortuous, interlacing branches, thinly furnished with foliage. At this stage the leaves are 12 to 112 in. long, narrowly or broadly ovate, deeply and irregularly toothed and lobed; they are borne on slender, downy stalks, nearly or quite as long as the blade. As the trees approach the adult state, the growth becomes less straggling, the leaves increase in size until they are 3 in. long, and become less deeply lobed. Flowers produced very numerously on racemes at the end of the shoot and in the leaf-axils near, the whole forming a panicle as much as 9 in. long; individually the flowers are unisexual; the male flowers yellowish white, the females greenish.

Native of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands; introduced about 1870. Having a wide range in the wild it probably varies in hardiness. At Kew it has been damaged in winter even when grown against a wall, yet one of the finest specimens in the country grows in the nursery of Messrs Kaye at Silverdale, Carnforth, Lancs. This measures 40 × 334 ft (1976). Others recorded recently are: Caerhays Castle, Cornwall, 50 × 412 ft (1971); Bicton, Devon, 41 × 3 ft (1972).



Other species in the genus