Its wood is very resilient and is valued for making tool handles, fence posts, and longbows. It is a deciduous understory tree growing to 18 m tall and 0.2 to 0.5 m trunk diameter. The bark is brown to gray-brown, with small shaggy plates flaking off. The leaves are ovoid-acute, 5 to 13 cm long and 4 to 6 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are catkins produced in spring at the same time as the new leaves appear; the male catkins are 20 to 50 mm long, the female 8 to 15 mm long. The fruit is a small nutlet 3 to 5 mm long fully enclosed in a papery white involucre 1 to 1.8 cm long, with 10 to 30 involucres on each catkin.
Found in deciduous and mixed forests.