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A tree 60 to 80 ft high in its native country, with a trunk 6 to 9 ft in girth; young shoots soon glabrous. Leaves 3 in. long, 11⁄4 in. wide; lanceolate or oval-lanceolate; rounded or wedge-shaped, unequal and three-nerved at the base; long and taper-pointed; margins entire or nearly so; dark green, and soon quite glabrous above, paler beneath, with scattered hairs on the veins and tufts of down in the vein-axils; stalks at first downy then glabrous, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Fruit egg-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, orange-red.
Native of the southern United States; very rare in cultivation. There are two trees at Kew, raised from seed sent by Prof. Sargent in 1877, which both now measure about 40 × 41⁄4 ft (1967). It is distinct from all other cultivated species by its leaves being without teeth or with only a few.
The oldest tree at Kew, pl. 1877, measures 42 × 43⁄4 (1981). Another, at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, is 42 × 31⁄2 ft (1981). The example of the var. smallii at Kew, pl. 1912, measures 41 × 5 ft (1981).