It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 7 m (23 ft) tall, with stems up to 20 cm (8 in) thick grey bark. The leaves are rounded, 4–13 cm (1 1⁄2–5 in) long and 2.5–10 cm (1–4 in) broad, with a coarsely double-serrated to somewhat lobed margin and an often truncated apex. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins; the male (pollen) catkins are pale yellow, 4 cm (1 1⁄2 in) long, while the female catkins are bright red and only 1–3 mm (1⁄16–1⁄8 in) long. The fruit is a nut produced in clusters of 2–6 together; each nut is 0.7–1.5 cm (1⁄4–1⁄2 in) diameter, partly enclosed in a 1.5–2.5 cm (1⁄2–1 in) long, bract-like involucre (husk).
The nut is edible, and is very similar to the common hazel nut; it is cultivated commercially in China.
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