It grows between 1000 and 2500 m, and is primarily an eastern species with its the western limit near Okhaldunga. It is often associated with Castanopsis tribuloides and Quercus lamellosa. Outside Nepal it extends to Burma, Indochina, and southern China. It is frost-hardy and coppices well.
It regenerates freely in protected forests in eastern Nepal, between 1400 and 1600 m, where there is a rich dark forest soil (Sizeland, 1986).
The seed ripens in October to November, and can be collected from beneath the trees. It can also sometimes be bought in local markets, but care must be taken not to buy seed that has already been roasted. There are about 600 seeds kg-1. The seed is often damaged by insects and should be put in a container of water for 24 hours; the sound seed will sink to the bottom. The seed is recalcitrant It may be sown immediately after collection, but if this is done it will not germinate until the warm weather of the following year, and it is meanwhile subject to losses from rodents. Thus the beds should be protected by wire mesh. If the seed is stored to be sown in March it should be kept moist by mixing it with 2-4 times its volume of damp sand, placing it in a fine wire mesh bag, or a clay pot, to protect it from rodents, and burying it in a pit 1-1.5 m deep. The seed needs a period of cold to break its dormancy. If it is sown in beds and left over winter it obtains this naturally, and also if it is stored in moist sand as described above. An alternative method is to stratify it in a refrigerator (keeping it moist).
When the seed is ready for sowing, the simplest method is to sow it directly into polypots at the rate of one seed per pot. Large pots are essential, at least 4 inch x 7 inch lay-flat (10 cm x 18 cm), and a good quality potting mixture containing 20-25 per cent compost should be used. The seed is placed on its side in a hole in the centre of the pot and covered with about 5 mm of soil. M.W. Campbell (1983a) recommends chitting or pre-germinating the seed by sowing it densely in a seed box, and covering it lightly with leaf litter. As the seeds germinate the seedlings are removed to polypots.
The bed holding the pots should be kept shaded until the beginning of the monsoon. Root pruning should begin during the monsoon and be repeated frequently. The species fonns a strong taproot, and if root pruning is neglected many deaths are likely to occur when the seedlings are removed from the nursery for planting out. An alternative is to sow the seed in beds or trays at approximately 2.5 cm spacing, and cover them lightly with of soil. They should be pricked out into polypots as soon as the plumule, the embryonic shoot, emerges. As germination is hypogeal, by the time the plumule emerges the thick radicle will be well developed, and if pricking out is delayed it is liable to be damaged and the seedlings killed.
As mentioned previously, seed sown in autumn will not germinate until the next spring. If it is sown in spring it will begin to germinate about four weeks after sowing, and continue for another 3--4 weeks. The seedlings will need 15-16 months in the nursery after the seed has germinated; that is if the seed is sown in February or March the seedlings will be ready by the monsoon of the next year. Above about 2000 m an extra year in the nursery will probably be needed.
In India stumps are used, from seed sown into beds in February, at 8-10 cm spacing, and kept in the beds for about 15 months, with the roots pruned to about 22 cm three weeks before the date of planting, and the shoots pruned to about 3 cm at the time of lifting. Ordinary stumps when the roots are pruned when the plants are lifted are also fairly successful (Suri and Seth, 1959). Direct sowing is also used in India, but there are considerable risks of losses to rodents. There has been no success so far in raising Castanopsis species from cuttings.
There is not much information from trials. At Murtidhunga (1500 m) in Dhankuta District, survival at two years old was 75 per cent and mean height 66 cm; the young trees were growing quite vigorously. Survival in farmers plantings at Salle in the same area was 100 per cent. In natural forest in India growth is rather slow, with a mean annual diameter increment of about 6 mm.
The timber is light greyish-brown, hard, and weighs about 740 kg m-3. It is good for house building, and splits readily for shingles. The leaves are used for fodder. The nuts are edible and are sold in local markets.
In the east it is reasonably popular for planting by farmers as a fodder tree, and also for its nuts and timber. It is rather slow growing, which is a disadvantage.