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The Chinese aucuba is a very variable shrub in regard to the shape of its leaves. One form (f. obcordata Rehd.) has them wedge-shaped, tapering gradually from a broad truncate apex to the stalk; whilst in another (f. angustifolia Rehd.) they are long and narrow, measuring 3 to 8 in. in length and 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. in width. The average or typical form was introduced by Wilson in 1901. This has evergreen, oblong or oval, coarsely toothed leaves tapered towards both ends, 3 to 6 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide; dull, dark, rather greyish green above, glaucous beneath. The Chinese aucuba is well distinguished from the common Japanese one by the coarser, sharper toothing of its leaves, by their markedly thicker texture, and especially by their duller, greyer hue. When in flower they may be distinguished by the petals being longer than those of A. japonica and drawn out at the apex into a slender tail. The red, egg-shaped fruits of both appear to be similar.
Native of Central and S. China, and of Formosa. It is not genuinely hardy at Kew and no longer in the collection.
† A. omeiensis Fang – This species, based on specimens from Mount Omei in western Szechwan, is really part of A. chinensis as understood by Rehder in his treatment of Wilson’s specimens in Plantae Wilsonianae, Vol. II, p. 572. The distinguishing characters given by W.-P. Fang are the exserted stamens with long filaments, the longer fruiting pedicels and the long, glabrous, usually many-fruited panicles. Were it to be recognised as a species, Wilson’s introduction from Mount Omei in 1901 would belong to it rather than to A. chinensis. But this never spread into gardens and dropped out of cultivation long ago, so the recent introduction of the Mount Omei aucuba by Roy Lancaster is of interest, whatever its status. It is now growing in several collections, as A. omeiensis.