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An evergreen small tree or shrub with slender shoots; not downy in any part. Leaves alternate, narrowly oval to oblanceolate, not toothed, tapered to a usually blunt apex, more gradually to a scarcely noticeable stalk; 1 to 21⁄4 in. long, 3⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. wide; dark green, rather leathery. Flowers fragrant, white or pink, produced during spring in terminal cylindrical racemes 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 5⁄8 in. wide. Each flower is 1⁄4 in. wide, with five obovate petals, and a small green calyx. Stamens ten. Ovary oblong with three or four angles and three or four cells; stigma slightly three- or four-lobed. Fruit dry, spongy, oval, 1⁄4 in. long; with three or four wings running lengthwise. Bot. Mag., t. 1625.
Native of the S.E. United States, discovered by W. Bartram in 1773; introduced probably by John Fraser about the beginning of the nineteenth century; it flowered and bore fruit in his son’s nursery in Sloane Square and was figured from there in the Botanical Magazine in 1814. Sargent observes that under favourable conditions it will grow 40 to 50 ft high, but in cultivation I have only seen it as a small shrub. It cannot be considered really hardy at Kew, being much injured in cold winters. In suitable localities more to the south and west it is worth growing for its fragrant white flowers and curious, winged fruits. The latter caused it at first to be mistaken for a Ptelea. Seeds are offered by American nurserymen.