Yes you read that correctly, Father Farges filbert. This is one of the most exciting trees that I have come across in the past half decade. This alliterative filbert is named for Father Farges. He was a Catholic missionary and plant explorer in the 19th century. Father Farges spent a good deal of his life in China and has several plants named after him including the clumping bamboo, Fargesia. But of all the plants named in honor of the late Father, I believe none are better than this one, Corylus fargesii or as mentioned before, Farges filbert.
This tree is blessed with some of the best bark in the business. The coppery colored, exfoliating bark is better than most river birch or paperbark maples. In addition to the bark, the leaves are attractive with a nice green color in the summer and a good yellow fall color. These trees are fairly new to the United States with some of the earliest seed being brought back from China in 1996. Several botanical gardens have been growing and evaluating these trees since this time and some trees are over 30 feet tall. The ultimate size of the trees in US gardens is as of yet unknown but their form is fairly upright with a beautiful branching structure.
An excellent summary of Corylus fargesii was written by Tony Aiello, director of horticulture and curator of the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. This article was published in the magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, Arnoldia. I linked to the article above as well as by clicking here.
Of all of the trees in Longwood Gardens‘ research nursery, this one is one of my favorites. Farges filbert has not been available commercially but a few specialty nurseries are now offering it for sale to the general public. One of our staff at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens found it available from Rare Find Nursery last week. We are eagerly placing our order today to try these trees out in Maine.
Have you ever seen Corylus fargesii in a garden? What do you think about its future as a landscape tree?
Photos: Robert Gutowski via Flickr, John Grimshaw