A deciduous tree up to 70 ft high in the wild; bark smooth, peeling in small, thin flakes; young shoots hairy at first, slender. Leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, 5⁄8 to 11⁄4 in. wide, rounded to widely cuneate at the base, the apex narrowed to a slender point, finely serrate, appressed downy beneath at first; stalk 1⁄2 in. or less long. Flowers white, 1 to 13⁄8 in. wide. Bracts two, persistent, oblong, longer than the calyx-lobes, which are ovate or deltoid and about 1⁄4 in. long. Petals spreading, silk-downy on the back. Stamens united at the base, with violet anthers. Fruits ovoid, beaked, about 3⁄8 in. long, covered with yellowish appressed hairs.
Native of S. Japan and of Quelpaert Island; introduced about 1903. Wilson found it abundant on the Island of Yakushima with a smooth pale trunk sometimes 3 ft in diameter, though in Japan proper, where it grows in the zone of beech forests, it is usually more slender. In gardens, where it is rare outside the larger collections, it makes a small tree with no outstanding qualities. The bark does not peel so freely as in S. sinensis and the flowers and fruits are the smallest in the genus.