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An evergreen shrub 6 to 10 ft high, of bushy shape; young shoots minutely downy. Leaves oval, suborbicular, broadly ovate, or obovate, not toothed, widely tapered at both ends, pointed or bluntish, 1⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄8 to 13⁄4 in. wide, dark glossy green above; dull, paler and with numerous black dots beneath; of thick leathery texture; stalk 1⁄12 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers creamy white, fragrant, produced in August and September in mostly terminal, pyramidal or cylindrical panicles 2 to 4 in. long. Corolla-tube about 1⁄4 in. long, the oblong rounded lobes half as long; calyx cup-shaped, indistinctly toothed. Fruits oval, 1⁄4 in. long, black, at first juicy, ultimately splitting downwards into two halves, unless, as frequently happens in cultivation, they are abortive. Bot. Mag., t. 9295.
Native of Yunnan, China, where it was discovered by the French missionary, Delavay; also of Szechwan; introduced by Forrest in 1913. We apparently owe its existence in British gardens to J. C. Williams, who raised it at Caerhays Castle from Forrest’s seeds. It was originally described as Syringa sempervirens in 1886 by Franchet from Delavay’s specimen, on account of its splitting fruit, but it has a much greater resemblance to the privets, especially in flower and mode of growth. It is very healthy, grows freely, and appears to be perfectly hardy at Kew in a sheltered position but without artificial protection. In the warmer counties it is a really good evergreen of shapely form and the leaves become larger and more leathery than in colder places, resembling those of Ligustrum coriaceum. It can also be regarded as one of the best flowering shrubs of the privet tribe and may prove to be a useful evergreen hedge plant. It was given an Award of Merit at Westminster in September 1928, when exhibited in flower by Mr Armytage-Moore from Northern Ireland. Easily grown in ordinary soil and easily propagated by cuttings. I have not seen the fruits split on cultivated plants, and judging by them one would never regard this shrub as anything but a ligustrum.