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An evergreen shrub or small tree to about 40 ft high, with a striated bark, young stems stout, reddish at first, later dark purplish brown. Leaves thinly leathery, oblong to elliptic, 3 to 4 in. long, 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide, with shallow crenate teeth, glabrous, venation visible on both sides. Male flowers in dense, paniclelike inflorescences which are borne on short spurs in the leaf-axils of the second-year wood; pedicels downy. Fruits red, globose, about 3⁄8 in. wide, borne in dense clusters on short downy stalks; nutlets four, ribbed. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 84.
A native of N.W. Yunnan and Upper Burma; described from a specimen collected by Kingdon Ward in the latter region and introduced by Forrest from Yunnan under F. 25069 and F. 26070. It has been confused with I. franchetiana (see below) and was for many years grown under that name (and may still be found so labelled in collections). It is hardy at Exbury on the Solent and fruits freely there. The fruit-clusters are very showy and persist long on the tree.
I. franchetian a Loes. – This species, a native of W. Szechwan and parts of Hupeh, is closely allied to I. melanotricha but differs in its sessile, glabrous male inflorescences and glabrous fruit-stalks. Seeds may have been sent by Wilson, but whether the true species is in cultivation in Britain is not certain. Forrest’s introduction from Yunnan under this name is really I. melanotricha, see above.
See I. fargesii, in this supplement.
[I. franchetiana] – This becomes a synonym of I. fargesii subsp. fargesii var. fargesii (S. Andrews, op. cit., p. 128). But plants labelled I. franchetiana are usually I. fargesii subsp. melanotricha.
I. hookeri – This is probably conspecific with I. sikkimensis Kurz, named earlier. Roy Lancaster tells us that the plant described in the Hillier Manual as I. hookeri is probably only a spiny-leaved form of I. dipyrena.