At present six of the seven species of Pterocarya known are in cultivation. They are deciduous trees with large, alternate, pinnate leaves and pithy young wood, the pith lamellate; leaflets varying from five to twenty-seven, toothed, more or less oblong. Flowers unisexual, both sexes borne on the same tree but on different catkins; male catkins about one-third the length of the female ones, pendulous in both sexes. The fruit is a small nut, large numbers of which are strung on slender spikes 8 to 20 in. long. From its allies in the same family – the walnuts and hickories – Ptericarya differs in the curiously winged nuts, and from the latter in the chambered pith.
In gardens the only species well known is the Caucasian one (of the rest five come from China, one from Japan), and no handsomer pinnate-leaved tree can be grown in our climate. The others also are handsome, but they have not yet shown their qualities as ornamental trees in Britain. All of them are moisture-lovers, and for their best development should be planted in deep loam. Young plants making vigorous succulent shoots are sometimes cut by winter cold, and even old trees are liable to injury by late spring frosts. Seeds afford the best means of propagation; some species produce suckers, and cuttings of the shoots may also be employed.