Carpinus fangiana (Fang’s hornbeam)
The leaves and fruiting catkins of Fang’s hornbeam are larger than those of any other hornbeam.
About this species
Carpinus fangiana is a rare hornbeam from western China, with large, elegant leaves and long, green catkins. It normally forms a large shrub, but when conditions are sufficiently warm and humid it can grow to a large tree up to 20 m tall.
It is named after Fang Wen-Pei (1899–1983), a Chinese botanist and expert on the trees of Sichuan, who first collected this species near Nanchuan Xian, in southeastern Sichuan, near Chongqing.
Geography & Distribution
Western China, in Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi Provinces at 900–2,000 m elevation.
A tree reaching up to 20 m or a multi-stemmed shrub with dark brown or grey bark. The twigs are smooth with large, spindle-shaped dormant buds. The leaves are finely serrate-dentate and thin and measure 6.0–25.0 cm long and 2.5–7.0 cm wide.
The male catkins are up to 6 cm long with deeply and irregularly toothed bracts, whereas female catkins are up to 50 cm long (giving rise to the common name monkeytail hornbeam) with papery bracts bearing shallow teeth apically (near the apex or tip) and on the inner margin. The nutlet is oblong, 3.5 cm long and glabrous.
Illustration from Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Colour print of Carpinus fangiana after a watercolour by Christabel King (Image: Christabel King)
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Editor: Martyn Rix) provides an international forum of particular interest to botanists and horticulturists, plant ecologists and those with a special interest in botanical illustration.
Now well over two hundred years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.
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Threats & Conservation
Fang’s hornbeam is widespread but rare in the wild. There are no known direct threats.
Fang's hornbeam is cultivated as an ornamental.
This species at Kew
Carpinus fangiana can be seen growing west of the Azalea Garden at Kew Gardens.
Seeds of this species were introduced to Kew in October 1991 from a collection (SICH 842) made by John Simmons, Charles Erskine, Charles Howick and William McNamara.
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