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An evergreen shrub or tree; young shoots darkish purple, marked with a few pale lenticels; terminal bud woolly. Leaves pinnately veined, oblong to oblanceolate, entire, pointed, tapered to a wedge-shaped or rounded base, 4 to 9 in. long, 1 to 21⁄4 in. wide, brilliantly glossy and dark green above, dull, pale and glaucous beneath, perfectly glabrous, midrib yellow; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Flowers produced numerously in short-stalked, axillary umbels about 1 in. wide. Fruits black, egg-shaped, about 3⁄4 in. long.
Native of S. and S.W. China and of Formosa; introduced by Wilson about 1900. The above description is based on the plants raised in the Coombe Wood nursery, where it formed a very handsome evergreen and proved quite hardy, remaining, however, a shrub. The leaves rather suggest, in their sheen and size, those of a cinnamon; they are aromatic when crushed.
To the above account, written when this species was still of very recent introduction, it has only to be added that L. megaphylla has never become common in gardens. At Kew there is a specimen about 20 ft high in an open position near the Pagoda. The species is also grown in Sussex at Wakehurst Place and Borde Hill, and in other collections. It seems fairly hardy but may lose its leaves in severe winters and is perhaps tender when young. The Kew specimen was protected during its early life by neighbouring shrubs, which have since been removed.
The plants at Caerhays in Cornwall measure 44 × 3 ft and 52 × 3 ft (largest stem) (1984).