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Tree to 10 m, 0.3 m dbh. Branchlets reddish or blackish brown with dense golden or black pubescence. Leaves deciduous, alternate, 5–10 × 2–3.5 cm, oblong to oblanceolate, thick, papery, upper surface greenish brown and glabrous, lower surface with yellowish brown tomentum, four to six lateral veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire, apex caudate to acuminate; petiole 0.5–0.6 cm long, pubescent below. Inflorescence clusters axillary, with five to six flowers and four bracts. Flowers yellowish green, tepals six, slightly pubescent outside; staminate flowers with nine fertile stamens; pistillate flowers smaller, with nine staminodes. Fruit ellipsoidal to globose, deep red, 0.8 × 0.5 cm. Flowering April, fruiting October to November (Taiwan). Liao 1996b. Distribution CHINA: Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; INDIA: Assam; JAPAN: Ryukyu Is.; MYANMAR; TAIWAN; VIETNAM. Habitat Broadleaved forest to elevations of 2300 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Not evaluated.
Lindera communis is commercially available in both North America and the United Kingdom, but the only provenanced stock traced in our research is that derived from Dan Hinkley’s collection (DJHC 030) made near Kunming, Yunnan in 1996. It is currently sold as vegetatively propagated plants from a specimen that has grown at Heronswood since then, tolerating –8 °C without damage (Heronswood Nursery catalogue 2005). Sean Hogan (pers. comm. 2007) reports that this species does well in the shelter of central Portland, but less well out of town at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island, where it has been cut to the ground by frost. The flowers are greenish yellow and are followed by red fruit.