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Tree to 25 m, 0.3 m dbh. Branchlets dark brown or purplish brown. Leaves evergreen, opposite or alternate, 8.5–18 × 3.2–3.5 cm, ovate to oblong, leathery, upper surface dark green and glabrous, lower surface greyish green, opaque and with white, silky hairs when young, soon glabrous, triplinerved with lateral nerves arising 0.05–0.15 cm above the base; there may also be an additional 3–10 lateral veins; margins cartilaginous and involute, apex acuminate; petiole 1–1.5 cm long and glabrous. Inflorescence axillary and paniculate, branching to bear cymes or racemes. Flowers two to five per cyme, 6.5 mm long, white. Drupe black-brown and ellipsoid, 1–1.5 × 0.5–0.8 cm; cupule inconspicuous, margins shallowly lobed or entire. Flowering April to May, fruiting September (China). Li et al. 2005. Distribution CHINA: Guangdong, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan. Habitat Forest on mountain slopes, in valleys or along rivers between 800 and 2400 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Not evaluated.
The only specimen of Cinnamomum wilsonii traced in our area is at the JC Raulston Arboretum, planted in 2000. This is a beautiful young tree, measured at 5.2 m in November 2006 (JC Raulston Arboretum database), having apparently put on a metre of growth since being observed for New Trees in May 2006, when it was approximately 4 m tall. Such rapid growth rates are typical of Cinnamomum when they are well suited. It is clearly flourishing in North Carolina, growing up straight and shapely – not quite as elegant as C. japonicum would be at the same size, but highly attractive, with reflective olive- to mid-green leaves that have a glaucous underside. Cinnamomum wilsonii would seem to be well worth trying wherever C. japonicum thrives.
This specimen continues to develop into an extremely attractive tree [JMG, pers. obs. 2019].