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An evergreen shrub 4 to 6 ft high, with glabrous, round, dark branches. Leaves narrowly oval, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 1 in. wide; pointed and tapered about equally at both ends, dark green, quite glabrous on both surfaces. Flowers red-purple, very fragrant, produced densely in a terminal head; each flower 1⁄2 in. long, 5⁄8 in. across; the tube not downy, rich purple; the four lobes paler, spreading, ovate. Flower-stalks very short, hairy.
Native of China, long cultivated in Japan; introduced from the latter country in 1771; hardy in the southern and western counties, but surviving only mild winters near London; ‘Aureo-Marginata’ is, however, hardier than the normal form. In Devon, Cornwall, and Isle of Wight there are beautiful bushes of this daphne in the open air, which begin to flower in midwinter and continue until spring. It is one of the most deliciously fragrant of evergreens.
This species does not need a calcareous soil, and can be increased by layers or cuttings, the latter made of moderately ripened shoots in July.
Flowers reddish purple on the outside, paler (often nearly white) within; leaves faintly margined with yellow. This form, once known erroneously as “D. japonica”, is quite hardy in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley, Surrey, and worthy of wider cultivation.
D. odora var. kiusiana (Miq.) Keissler