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A deciduous shrub 10 to 15 ft high, with wide-spreading branches, often arranged in a flat, distichous manner; young shoots downy. Leaves oval-lanceolate, with long, slender points, and tapered at the base, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark green, downy on both surfaces; stalk 1⁄3 in. or less long. Flowers fragrant, pure white at first, turning yellowish with age, all produced in pairs on the upper side of the branchlets, where they form a dense row; peduncles very short. Corolla two-lipped, the tube 1⁄4 in. long, the narrowly oblong, round-ended lobes 1⁄2 in. long, the two outer ones of the upper lip deeper than the middle ones; stamens about twice as long as the corolla-tube, downy at the base; style hairy. Flower-stalk about 1⁄8 in. long. Fruits dark red.
Introduced to St Petersburg, about 1880, from Manchuria; and from China by Wilson in 1900. It is one of the most beautiful of bush honeysuckles, especially the Chinese form, which is distinguished as f. podocarpa Rehd. ‘having the ovaries, together with the bractlets, on a short, stalk-like elongation above the bracts’ (Rehder). This seems also to be of freer growth than the Manchurian form, and is remarkable for the abundance and purity of its blossom. L. maackii belongs to the same section of the genus as L. xylosteum and L. morrowii, from both of which it is distinguished by the very short flower-stalks and pure white corolla. It varies in the amount of down on the leaves, and is sometimes almost glabrous.
Of very much the same character as L. maackii is L. koehneana Rehd.; introduced from China by Wilson in 1908. It is a vigorous grower, with softly downy, often rather diamond-shaped leaves up to 3 or 4 in. long, and yellow flowers. From L. maackii it is at once distinguishable by the slender, much longer peduncles (up to 1 in. long).
This species also occurs in Korea and was reintroduced to Kew from Kwangnung province, South Korea, in 1982, by seed from a plant about 15 ft high and 12 ft wide (B.E. & C. 241).