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A deciduous shrub with dark green branchlets. Leaves of thin texture, typically narrow-oblong to ovate-oblong, acuminate, to about 4 in. long and 15⁄8 in. wide, pinnately veined, the lateral veins in four to six pairs, glabrous above, undersurface somewhat glaucous, at first silky pubescent, becoming more or less glabrous; petioles slender, 1⁄2 to 5⁄8 in. long. Flowers yellow, opening as the leaves unfold, in small, downy umbels. Fruits black.
Native of Japan and China. The date of introduction to Britain is uncertain, but there is a large plant at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, near the mansion house, about 13 ft high and 10 ft wide, which may be from seeds collected by Wilson in Hupeh or western Szechwan. The leaves turn yellow in the autumn.
Two varieties are recognised in Ohwi’s Flora of Japan: var. lancea Momijama, with more persistently hairy, sometimes oblanceolate, leaves, shorter downy petioles, and velvety inflorescence-branches, and var. membranacea (Maxim.) Momijama, with larger and relatively broader leaves; this also occurs in China.
L. sericea (Sieb. & Zucc.) Bl. Benzoin sericeum Sieb. & Zucc.; L. umbellata var. sericea (Sieb. & Zucc.) Makino – This is near to the preceding. It was introduced to Veitch’s Coombe Wood nursery by J. G. Veitch towards the end of the last century, but was always damaged by frost at Kew.