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An evergreen shrub of twiggy, diffuse habit, probably 10 to 15 ft high; shoots slightly zigzagged, but not tortuous nor interlaced as in C. cotoneaster; clothed with a close white down when young. Leaves oblanceolate or rather spoon-shaped, tapered more abruptly to the pointed or rounded apex than at the slender base; 1⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. long, 1⁄8 to 2⁄3 in. wide; dark glossy green and at first hairy above but soon nearly or quite glabrous, pure white beneath with closely appressed down; stalks never more than 1⁄8 in. long. Flowers borne during May in threes at or near the ends of the shoots; main-stalk 1⁄4 in. long; individual stalks 1⁄12 in. long, white like the under-surface of the leaves. Petals five, yellow, spreading, pointed, about 1⁄5 in. long; calyx funnel-shaped with five small triangular teeth, white outside; stamens five, alternate with the petals. Fruit an orange-yellow, egg-shaped berry 1⁄4 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 8466.
Native of New Zealand; first described from a plant obtained by Kew in 1907 and grown in the Temperate House. It had been raised from a cutting sent from the office of the Gardeners’ Chronicle. The species is on the border line of hardiness at Kew. Some fine bushes, 6 ft and upwards high, growing in a sheltered spot, bore fine crops of the orange-yellow fruit in 1928. They were cut to the ground during the ensuing hard winter, but broke into growth again from the base freely enough in 1929. Messrs Cheal of Crawley have informed me that it withstands hard winters there with comparatively little injury. Its white slender twigs and graceful form are very pleasing. Easily distinguished from the other three species by the size and shape of its leaves and its yellow fruits.
It is now considered that C. virgata is a hybrid between C. buddleioides and C. cotoneaster. These species cross readily in the wild wherever they grow together and plants are found in these hybrid swarms which match C. virgata fairly closely (Allan in Flora of N.Z., 1961, p. 442). C. cheesemanii Carse is also a wild hybrid of the same parentage.