Leaves: Alternate, simple; blades rhombic to ovate, coarsely doubly toothed, paler and densely hairy on the lower surface, up to 3 inches long, acute at the tip, truncate or tapering to the base, the leafstalks woolly.
Buds: Up to ¼ inch long, pointed hairy.
Bark: Curling, shredding, brownish-pink to reddish-brown.
Twigs: Slender, reddish-brown, with several short hairs; leaf scars alternate, half-elliptical, with 3 bundle traces.
Flowers: Staminate and pistillate on the same tree, inconspicuous, opening in late April and May, the staminate in slender drooping clusters, the pistillate in short, conelike, woolly clusters.
Fruits: Tiny, hairy nuts, each with 3-lobed wing, crowded together in a cylindrical cone up to 1 ½ inch thick.
Wood: Strong but light, pale brown.
Uses: Wood is used for furniture; sometimes planted as an ornamental.
Habitat: Along rivers and streams; bottomland woods.
Growth Form: Up to 75 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 2 feet; crown irregularly rounded.
Distinguishing Feature: The shaggy peeling reddish-brown bark readily distinguishes this tree from other in Illinois, as does its rhombic doubly teethed leaves.