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Shrub or small tree to 4 m. Branchlets initially yellowish green with silky hairs, becoming reddish brown or black and glabrous. Leaves deciduous, alternate, 6–20 × 3–7 cm, narrowly obovate, both surfaces with short, persistent hairs, 6–12 lateral veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire, apex acuminate to acute; petiole 0.5–1.5 cm long. Inflorescences subsessile and axillary, produced just below the newly expanding leaves, umbels with four to seven flowers, solitary or clustered, pedicels with short golden hairs. Fruit globose, black, 0.7 cm diameter. Ohwi 1965, Liao 1988. Distribution JAPAN : Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku; NORTH KOREA; SOUTH KOREA. Habitat Moist slopes between 300 and 1200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Cross-references S309, K224. Taxonomic note Lindera sericea var. glabrata Blume also occurs in Japan (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku), and has smaller, thinner leaves than the type variety, without short hairs on the leaf surfaces. There are, however, scattered long hairs on the lower surface (Ohwi 1965).
Clarke (1988) mentions that J.G. Veitch introduced Lindera sericea to Western gardens but that it was frost-sensitive at Kew. It has been collected again from Japan in recent years: there is material from SOJA 155, gathered on Shikoku in 1989, growing at Quarryhill, and the Wynn-Joneses made collections from Kyushu in 2005 (BSWJ 11123, 11141) (Crûg Farm Plants 2007–2008). The rather southerly distribution of this shrubby species, together with its track record of tenderness and general absence from cultivation, do suggest that this is not a particularly hardy plant. It is worth attempting in warm gardens, however, for its dark stems and bright yellow autumn foliage.