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An evergreen small tree up to 15 or 20 ft high, quite devoid of down in all its parts. Leaves narrow-oblong or narrowly oblanceolate, 2 to 5 in. long, 3⁄8 to 11⁄8 in. wide, slenderly tapered and entire towards the base, more abruptly tapered towards the apex, where are a few incurved teeth, dull green; stalk 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, reddish. Fruits red, globose, often in threes or fours in the leaf-axils, 1⁄4 in. diameter; stalk 1⁄6 in. long, reddish. Bot. Mag., t. 9670.
Native of W. China, in the province of Szechwan; introduced by Wilson for Messrs Veitch in 1900. It is very distinct in its long, narrow, opaque leaves. In a sheltered situation it is quite hardy as far east as Sussex and is 26 ft high, 2 ft in girth at Caerhays, Cornwall (1966). A.M. 1926.
It is allied to I. franchetiana, which scarcely differs except in its shorter relatively broader leaves, and also to I. melanotricha and to I. hookeri. For these species see under I. melanotricha.
The variations of this species are discussed by Susyn Andrews in The Kew Magazine, Vol. 3 (3), pp. 127-35 (1986).
† var. brevifolia S. Andrews – This newly described variety differs from the typical state of the species (subsp. fargesii var. fargesii) in its shorter and relatively broader leaves, up to 3 in. long and 1 in. wide, edged with fine spiny teeth. It was introduced by Wilson from western Hupeh (W.946). It is in cultivation, grown as I. fargesii, and makes a suckering shrub of dense, rounded habit to about 10 ft high. It is less common than the typical state of the species, also introduced by Wilson, which is of open habit, with ascending branches, and has attained a height of 25 ft in Britain.
subsp. melanotricha (Merrill) S. Andrews I. melanotricha Merrill – See Volume 2, page 447. The only reliable distinction between this and I. fargesii subsp. fargesii is that the pedicels are pubescent instead of glabrous. Susyn Andrews remarks that it is commoner in collections than once supposed, mostly from Forrest 25069, and grown as either I. fargesii or I. franchetiana.