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A deciduous climber up to 20 ft high; young shoots furnished with reddish down (most of which falls away by autumn) and whitish lenticels. Leaves oval to ovate, coarsely toothed, rounded or broadly wedge-shaped at the base, slender-pointed; 3 to 6 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide; downy on the midrib and more prominent veins beneath; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers inconspicuous, produced in shortly stalked, axillary clusters; stamens glabrous. Fruits 1⁄4 in. long, orange-coloured; seed-coat red.
Native of the Himalaya and China; introduced by Wilson from W. Szechwan (No. 1184) in 1908. The Chinese plant grows vigorously at Kew and is quite hardy there, producing occasionally good crops of its orange-coloured fruits which persist into the new year and are very attractive. The most easily detected distinctive character is the reddish down on the shoots and on the veins of the leaf beneath. It is the only cultivated celastrus with that character. The Himalayan plant (which may not be so hardy as the Chinese one) was long confused with C. stylosa Wall, until separated and named by Sir David Prain. C. stylosa is well distinguished by its downy stamens.
C. stylosus Wall. (misspelt ‘stylosa’) was mentioned under C. hookeri because it was at one time confused with it. It is in fact quite distinct.