Alniphyllum Matsum.

Family

Styracaceae

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Bean

Alniphyllum comprises three species in China, India, Myanmar, Laos, Taiwan and Vietnam. They are deciduous trees, the leaves alternate with serrate margins; stipules absent. Inflorescences are terminal or axillary, paniculate or racemose. The flowers are hermaphrodite and 5-merous; the calyx cup-shaped, the corolla campanulate, with 10 stamens, five long and five short. The fruit is a slightly fleshy capsule, dehiscing via five valves; the seeds have membranous wings at each end (Hwang & Grimes 1996).

Alniphyllum is little known in cultivation, although the widely distributed A. fortunei (described below) was discovered in the mid-nineteenth century. Alniphyllum pterospermum Matsum. has also been described, by Huxley et al. (1992), but the only specimen traced is in the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

From Bean's Trees & Shrubs

Alniphyllum

A genus of a few species in subtropical southeast Asia, extending into China and Formosa. The leading characters are: flowers as in Styrax but the stamens united almost to the apex; fruit a dehiscent, many-seeded capsule, the seeds linear, winged at each end. The type of the genus is A. pterospermum Matsum., described from Formosa, where it makes a tree to about 35 ft high occurring only at low altitudes. It is closely related to A. fortunei (Hemsl.) Perkins, a native of China, described by Hemsley as Halesia fortunei from a specimen collected by Fortune at Amoy in southern Fukien. Its northern limit is uncertain, but Wilson found it in western Szechwan growing at about 5,000 ft at the foot of Wa-Wu Shan, making a tree about 80 ft hight.

Both these species have been introduced to Britain since 1980 but it is too early to say anything about their garden worth or hardiness. A. fortunei is in several collections, raised from seeds received from the Shanghai Botanic Garden and believed to have been collected in the wild.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Alniphyllum fortunei is seldom grown, probably requiring very mild conditions, but its beautiful flowers make it worth the effort. Image Q. Cronk.

Species articles