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A spreading shrub or a small tree, with mostly alternate branchlets. Leaves in two opposite ranks not all in the same plane, some being semi-erect; linear, 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. long, about 1⁄8 in. wide, rather abruptly narrowed to a fine point; dark green above, marked beneath with a broad glaucous strip each side the midrib, composed of fifteen to eighteen fine lines of stomata. Male flowers in a branched cluster 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long on a peduncle 1⁄4 to 1 in. long. Fruit oval, or obovoid, about 1 in. long.
C. harringtonia was described from a male plant belonging to what was apparently a Japanese garden clone, introduced to Europe by Siebold in 1829. In cultivation it makes as a rule a rather low, spreading bush – the tallest at Kew is about 14 ft high.
C. harringtonia is very near in its characters to the wild Japanese cephalotaxus which Siebold and Zuccarini named C. drupacea and may indeed be part of the normal variation of that species. Unfortunately, the name C. harringtonia has priority, and if the two are to be regarded as at the most varietally distinct, which botanists now consider to be the case, then C. drupacea must take the subordinate position as:
† cv. ‘Prostrata’. – Compact and semi-prostrate habit, attaining 2 or 3 ft in height, three times that in width. A sport raised by Messrs Hillier before 1920.
Both the species mentioned above bear original epithets which, under present rules, have to be treated as ‘orthographic errors’. C. fortuni should be C. fortunei, while the specific epithet of C. harringtonia would have to be emended to harringtonii or, better perhaps, harringtoniana. But the choice is best left to a monographer of the genus.
C. drupacea Sieb. & Zucc
C. drupacea var. sinensis Rehd. & Wils.
C. sinensis (Rehd. & Wils.) Li