Amentotaxus argotaenia (Hance) Pilg.

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Shrub or tree to 6(–10) m. Bark flaking, grey-brown, showing reddish orange below. Branches spreading. Branchlets subterete to quadrangular. Leaves thickly coriaceous, linear-lanceolate, 4–8 0.65–1.5 cm, usually straight but occasionally falcate towards tip, apex acute to obtuse, stomatal bands silvery white, 1.2–1.8 mm broad. Male strobili pendulous, in clusters of (one to) two to three (to five), 5–6.5 cm, shortly pedunculate. Fruits 2.5 1.5 cm, pendulous on peduncles to 2 cm, red when immature, becoming purple, the seed protruding slightly from the aril. Li 1952, Luu & Thomas 2004. Distribution CHINA: Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, western Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xizang, Zhejiang; VIETNAM. Habitat Wet rocky sites in forest. USDA Hardiness Zone 9–10. Conservation status Vulnerable. Illustration Luu & Thomas 2004; NT147, NT148. Cross-reference K50.

Amentotaxus argotaenia is present in collections throughout our area but is mainly grown under glass, as for example at Edinburgh. There is a very small plant from Sichuan outside at Kew, but it is not thriving. The species was introduced to North America in 1994 by Piroche Plants (2002–2005) but does not seem to have become established in gardens, in our area at least. It is probably better suited to conditions in the southeastern United States.

The foliage and fruits of Amentotaxus argotaenia are extremely decorative. The aril almost entirely covers the seed. Image R. Unwin.



Other species in the genus