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A deciduous twining shrub up to 20 ft high, the older bark peeling off in flakes; young shoots glabrous. Leaves broadly ovate, oblong or roundish in main outline, the terminal pair close to the inflorescence are always roundish and in cultivated plants the lower pairs are often very deeply lobed, 1 to 2 in. long, half to nearly as much wide, glaucous green, quite glabrous; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long. Inflorescence a terminal, stalked head of flowers closely arranged in two or three tiers opening in May. Corolla rosy-white, of the two-lipped, common honeysuckle shape, 1 in. long, 3⁄4 in. wide, the tube downy and glandular outside, glabrous within; stamens glabrous; style hairy. The main-stalk of the inflorescence is downy and the bracts beneath each tier of flowers are hairy. Bot. Mag., t. 8956.
Native of Afghanistan; discovered in 1840 by Griffith (Superintendent of the Botanic Garden, Calcutta, in the early 19th century). The plants at present in cultivation were obtained by Lt-Col. Mainwaring of Upwey in Dorset, who had seeds sent to him in 1910. Dr Aitchison collected it in 1879 during his notable travels in Afghanistan, and records that he found it in association with Quercus ilex, Rosa ecae, and Populus alba, all very hardy. It does not appear, nevertheless, to have taken kindly to our climate, although it succeeded at Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast. Coming from a dry region with hot summers and cold winters it might prove to thrive best in eastern England. Only one of the specimens in the Kew Herbarium has the deeply lobed leaves shown in the illustration cited above and in the plant once grown under glass at Wisley (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 66, p. 369 and figs. 121 and 122). But they seem to have been characteristic of the Mainwaring introduction and are reported to occur occasionally on wild plants. It happens that the one wild specimen with lobed leaves in the Kew Herbarium was collected by Capt. S. M. Toppin, who provided the seeds from which Col. Mainwaring eventually obtained flowering plants, after many years of failure from earlier sending of seeds and cuttings (see Gard. Chron., Vol. 60 (1916), p. 42).
Botanically, the species is closely related to our native L. periclymenum. Both Dr Aitchison and Col. Mainwaring found it festooning Quercus ilex, and all who have seen it in the wild have been impressed by its beauty.