Small tree to 9 m, branches upright on young trees. Branchlets grey-downy at first, glabrous later. Leaves ovate, sometimes lobed on long shoots, base cuneate or rounded, sharply toothed, to 11 cm long on vigorous shoots; shiny dark green and glabrous above, paler and downy at first beneath. Inflorescence 6–10-flowered; pedicels 2.5–4 cm, hairy. Flowers to 3.5 cm diameter, usually semidouble, pale rose, May (UK). Calyx wooly, especially above, usually persistent. Fruit globose, sometimes somewhat angular, 1.5 cm diameter, yellow. (Bean 1981; Fiala 1994).
USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
A hybrid between M. × floribunda and M. prunifolia, put into commerce by Späth of Berlin in 1888 (Bean 1981). It is, then, at least a three-way hybrid, with genes from M. baccata, M. toringo and M. prunifolia (which in turn is probably an ancient hybrid involving M. sieversii). Its finest feature is its densely clustered flowers along the previous year’s long, straight growth, over 1m in young trees, ideal for cutting and useful in smaller spaces (Bean 1981; Fiala 1994). It is however a weak and disease-prone tree which seems never to have been common on either side of the Atlantic.
It is rarely seen nowadays. European examples include a tree in Calderstones Park, Liverpool (6 m × 95 cm, 2015 – The Tree Register 2020), and a multistemmed specimen from 1939 at Meise Botanic Garden (Meise Botanic Garden 2020). It is recorded from several more or less specialised North American collections (University of Washington Botanic Gardens 2020; Hoyt Arboretum 2020; Arnold Arboretum 2020).
Despite being styled as a nothospecies and hence covering all hybrids with this parentage, the name has most often been used to mean the original Späth clone. However, several cultivars are sometimes placed here, in a more or less speculative way. These include ‘Exzellenz Thiel’ (commercially extinct), ‘Red Jade’ (see ‘Cultivars R’) and ‘Hillieri’ (see ‘Cultivars G-I’).