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An evergreen climber, said to cover trees in its native country, but only a few feet high in the average climate of Britain; young stems silky-hairy. Leaves glossy beneath, broadly ovate with a heart-shaped base, or three-lobed, coarsely toothed, glabrous; 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide; stalk 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long. Flower solitary or in pairs, on a stalk 1 to 2 in. long; sepals oval, dull white or cream-coloured, downy outside; the whole flower 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. across, produced in winter. Seed-vessels terminated by plumose styles 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, forming large, beautifully silky tassels. Blooms January to March. Bot. Mag., t. 1070.
Native of the Mediterranean region; first discovered in Andalucia by the botanist Clusius in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and soon afterwards introduced to Britain. It appears to be hardier than var. balearica, but at Kew does not flower so well, nor has it the beautifully cut, bronzy foliage that is so attractive in its ally. The flowers are sometimes stained inside with narrow, irregular, reddish-purple spots (f. purpurascens Willk.), or may be wholly red.
A feature of this species and its variety, omitted from the description, is that below each flower (or pair of flowers) there are two bracts, united so as to form a cup-shaped involucre.
C. calycina Ait