Tetracentron sinense Oliver

Spur leaf

Family: Trocodendraceae

Outstanding forest tree discovered by Irish botanist Augustine Henry in 1889 in Hubie Province, China.

It is capable of growing to height of 40m, making a dramatic tree. The flowers are long and catkin like. It is also a botanical curiosity in that the timber lacks the vessels that are the water-transport structures in almost all angiosperms. This was previously thought to suggest that Tetracentron was a very primitive genus, but is now thought to suggest that the genus lost vessels during its evolution rather than retaining the primitive condition. Vessels are not found in conifers which existed long before the flowering plants (angiosperms) evolved. The leaves of Tetracentron have a distinctive bract that partially incloses the leaf petiole.

Donated to the Belfast Botanic Gardens by the Irish Tree Society during their visit to the Gardens in 2023

Photographs taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens and Rowalane Garden in 2023. Photographs copyright Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.