A tree to about 80 ft high in the wild, its bark deeply furrowed when old; buds viscous, about 1 in. long. Leaves ovate, acuminate, usually cordate at the base, 3 to 7 in. long, 2 to 5 in. wide, glabrous above, whitish and glabrous or sometimes finely downy beneath, margins finely crenated, usually ciliate; petioles 2 to 5 in. long, more or less terete. Male catkins 3 to 4 in. long; anthers oblong, much longer than wide, the female 6 to 12 in. long; rachis of catkins glabrous. Capsules glabrous, broadly ovoid, rather distant, distinctly stalked.
Native of the Himalaya up to about 10,000 ft, in secondary forest and by streams, often occupying terrain where the climax forest is composed of Pinus wallichiana or fir. It also occurs on the Tibetan side of the range along the Tsangpo. Although this species has been known since early in the last century, the few plants in cultivation are of recent introduction. One, at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, is a seedling collected in autumn 1983 in the Marysandi valley of the Annapurna Himalaya in central Nepal (Schilling 2684/D). It grew in oak conifer forest at about 8,000 ft. This is a strong grower, with hand-sized leaves greyish and reticulate beneath, ciliate at the edge even when mature. The others in the Wakehurst collection under this name are an introduction by the Forestry Commission from west Pakistan.