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An evergreen bush 2 to 3 ft high, of bushy habit; young shoots silky-hairy. Leaves obovate, tapered at the base, mostly rounded or blunt at the apex; 3⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. long, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. wide, dark glossy green above, pale and very hairy beneath. Flowers fragrant, purplish rose, produced in a terminal head of ten to fifteen blossoms; they are 1⁄2 in. across, and felted with silky hairs outside; lobes roundish ovate; ovary silky. Bot. Mag., t. 428.
Native of the Mediterranean region, with two main areas of distribution, one on the west coast of Italy from Tuscany to the Naples area and the other in Crete and southern Asia Minor; cultivated in 1752. In previous editions of this work it was stated that D. collina is ‘not very hardy’. This may have been true of the form known to the author (the species has a wide range and may well vary in this respect). But the form current in gardens at the present time appears to be perfectly hardy, though, like most daphnes, not long-lived.
D. sericea Vahl is very closely allied to the preceding and the two might well be considered to be states of one species. Typically, D. sericea differs in its generally shorter and narrower leaves, which are thinly silky-hairy beneath, and by its fewer (six to eight) flowers; other points of difference are given by Keissler, but are not reliable. D. sericea appears to have much the same natural range as D. collina.
Modern floras of the regions concerned are unanimous in including D. collina in D. sericea, and there is really no reason to dispute this conclusion, even though plants grown under the former name differ somewhat from those grown as D. sericea, especially in being more hardy.
The provenance of the plants now cultivated as D. collina is unknown, but the early history of this former species is well documented. It was seen by Sir James Smith in March 1787 on the banks of the Volturno near Caserta, when in the company of D. Graeffer, who was head gardener to the King of Naples; Smith described his species five years later, partly from a specimen collected then and partly from a plant sent to Aiton at Kew by Graeffer (who had English connections, having been previously head gardener to the Earl of Coventry at Croome Court in Worcestershire).
The statement that D. collina was cultivated by Miller in 1752 comes from Aiton’s Hortus Kewensis, and, as Brickell and Mathew point out, is almost certainly wrong, since there is no daphne in his Dictionary that matches it.