Lonicera nitida Wils.
Synonyms: L. ligustrina var. yunnanensis Franch.; L. pileata f. yunnanensis (Franch.) Rehd.
An evergreen shrub 5 to 12 ft high, of densely leafy habit; young shoots slender, erect, purplish, downy, and sparsely bristly. Leaves of stout texture, closely set on the shoot, ovate to roundish, heart-shaped at the base, blunt at the apex, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long, dark and glossy above, pale beneath, glabrous except for a few minute bristles which ultimately fall away; stalk 1⁄20 in. long, minutely bristly. Flowers produced in axillary, short-stalked pairs, creamy white, fragrant; corolla 1⁄4 in. long. Fruits globular, blue-purple, about 1⁄4 in. across, transparent. Bot. Mag., t. 9352.
Native of W. Szechwan and Yunnan, China, at altitudes of 4,500 to 7,000 ft; introduced by Wilson in 1908. Seeds were also sent by Forrest from Yunnan, but the plants from this introduction were at first grown as L. ligustrina var.yunnanensis or L. pileata var. yunnanensis or even as “L. yunnanensis” – the name of a quite different species (q.v.). For the following account of the garden selections of L. nitida we are indebted to the article by Dr P. F. Yeo in Baileya, Vol. 12, pp. 56-66, and to the descriptions by G. Krüssmann in Handbuch der Laubgehölze.
cv. ‘Elegant’. – Krüssmann (op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 81) proposes this name for the plants distributed by German nurseries under the name “L. pileata yunnanensis” and remarks that this clone is quite distinct from the plants offered by British nurseries under the same name (see ‘Yunnan’). According to Krüssmann this shrub grows to about 3 ft high, with horizontal or slightly pendulous branches. Leaves mat green, about 3⁄5 in. long, ovate to roundish ovate, blunt at the apex. Yeo suggests this may be a hybrid between L. nitida and L. pileata.
cv. ‘Ernest Wilson’. – This is the clone of L. nitida, probably raised from Wilson 833, that was once widely used as a hedging plant and is still very common. It is inferior to ‘Yunnan’ for that purpose and began to give way to it shortly before the second world war. Lateral branches drooping. Leaves bright glossy green, mostly lanceolate-ovate or triangular-ovate, less than 1⁄2 in. long.
cv. ‘Fertilis’. – Stems arching or erect; lateral branchlets mostly long and arching with rather distant, widely spreading ovate to lanceolate dark green leaves up to slightly more than 1⁄2 in. long. It flowers and fruits well and the flowers are slightly scented. Distributed by Messrs Hillier, who received it around 1927 under the name L. ligustrina var.yunnanensis. It is distinct in its dark green leaves and further differs from ‘Ernest Wilson’ and ‘Yunnan’ in the leaves being somewhat larger and slightly tapered to the base.
cv. ‘Graziosa’. – A dense, spreading shrub with rather small leaves. It is a seedling of the “L. pileata var. yunnanensis” of German nurseries (see ‘Elegant’) raised by the nurseryman Jürgl of Sürth near Cologne (Krüssmann, op. cit., p. 81).
cv. ‘Yunnan’. – This resembles ‘Ernest Wilson’ but the lateral branchlets are shorter and mostly erect and the slightly larger leaves are usually not arranged in two ranks. It also flowers more freely. ‘Yunnan’ was distributed before 1939 by R. Tucker and Sons of Farringdon who received plants from the Brookside nurseries, and became widely distributed under the name L. pileata yunnanensis. It makes a stiffer hedge than’Ernest Wilson’ (i.e. the old L. nitida).
In addition to the above green-leaved selections there is also a variety with golden leaves – ‘Baggesen’s Gold’. It is of low, spreading habit and was raised by J. H. Baggesen of Pembury, Kent.