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An evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub to about 15 ft high, glabrous in all its parts. Young growths green, four-angled; buds large, pointed, to 2⁄5 in. long. Leaves opposite, oblong to lanceolate, more or less long-acuminate at the apex, up to 51⁄2 in. long, lustrous dark green, with the venation prominent on both sides; margins finely saw-toothed. Flowers borne seven to fifteen together in lax, slender-stalked cymes; petals four, greenish yellow or purple, sometimes whitish at the margin. Fruits pendulous; capsule with four wings attached near the base; seeds white, almost enclosed by the orange-red aril. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 161.
Native of the E. Himalaya, Upper Burma and Yunnan; described in 1824 but apparently not introduced until 1931, when Kingdon Ward sent seed under his KW 10124 from the border between Burma and Assam, where it grows at around 9,000 ft altitude. The material for the figure in the Botanical Magazine was taken from plants growing at Trewithen in Cornwall, where the species is quite hardy.
E. cornutus Hemsl. – An ally of the preceding. The points of difference are: leaves linear-lanceolate, with veins making an angle of less than 450 with the midrib; cymes usually three-flowered; fruits with four very prominent wings (to 1⁄2 in. long) attached near the middle of the capsule and produced outwards as a horn-like prolongation. The fruits are five-horned in var. quinquecornutus (Comber) Blakelock.
This species has a wide distribution in W. and S.W. China; introduced by Wilson in 1908 and later by Forrest. An elegant foliage plant remarkable for its large, ridged and horned fruits. It varies in the degree of persistence of its leaves and, as seen in cultivation, is usually more or less deciduous.