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An evergreen shrub or small tree, ultimately 20 to 40 ft high, of erect habit, with glabrous, stout young shoots. Leaves of leathery texture, crowded at the end of each year’s twigs, narrowly obovate or oblanceolate, tapered towards both ends but more gradually towards the base, bluntish at the apex, edged with rather large, rounded teeth, each tooth tipped with a large gland; 2 to 5 in. long, 5⁄8 to 2 in. wide; dark glossy green above, pale beneath, glabrous on both sides; stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long. Flowers in terminal racemes 2 to 5 in. high, 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide. Each flower is about 5⁄8 in. wide, cup-shaped, white or tinged with rose; petals six, concave, broadly obovate; calyx small, six-lobed, the triangular lobes toothed; stamens six, with flattened stalks tapered towards the yellow anthers. Fruit erect, slender, 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄8 in wide, splitting when ripe into two halves which recurve outwards. Bot. Mag., t. 4377.
Native of Tasmania; introduced to Kew about 1840. A very beautiful flowering evergreen with racemes suggesting those of Clethra arborea, but stiffer and with larger blossoms. It is not hardy in the London district, but succeeds in Devon, Cornwall, Isle of Wight, etc. It seems to have first flowered at Kew in winter (of course, under glass), but bloomed out-of-doors at Cann House, Devon, in May 1920. It has not, judging from the scarcity of thriving specimens, even in the milder parts, proved really successful in our climate. This is no doubt due in part to its tenderness but also in some measure ‘to the difficulty in providing the exact conditions it needs. Besides a soft, moist atmosphere it would appear to require at least moderate shade and a soil rich in humus and of an acid or neutral nature’. (W. J. Bean in New Flora and Sylva, Vol. 7, pp. 14-15.)