Description from Flora of China
Shrubs or trees, 3-10 m tall. Bark gray, shallowly furrowed. Branches finely hairy. Winter buds reddish brown, ovoid, finely hairy. Stipules lanceolate, 2-3.5 cm, densely covered with short pubescence. Petiole 1.5-5.5 cm, pubescent; leaf blade ovate to broadly ovate, irregularly lobed, 5-30 × 5-12 cm, abaxially sparsely pubescent along midvein or in tufts in axil of midvein and primary lateral veins, adaxially bright green and glabrous, base rounded to ± cordate, margin coarsely serrate to crenate, apex acute, acuminate, or obtuse. Male catkins pendulous, 2-3.5 cm, densely white hairy. Female catkins 1-2 cm, pubescent; peduncle 5-10 mm, pubescent. Male flowers: calyx lobes pale green, broadly elliptic; filaments inflexed in bud; anthers 2-loculed, globose to reniform. Female flowers: sessile; calyx lobes ovoid, ± compressed, with marginal hairs; ovary sessile, ovoid; style absent; stigmas with mastoidlike protuberance, branches divergent, papillose. Syncarp red when immature, blackish purple, purple, or greenish white when mature, ovoid, ellipsoid, or cylindric, 1-2.5 cm. Fl. Apr-May, fr. May-Aug.
The leaves provide food for silkworms, the bark fiber is used for textiles and paper, and the bark is also used for medicine.
* Originally endemic to C and N China, now cultivated throughout China [widely cultivated throughout the world].