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A deciduous, sparsely branched tree up to 60 or 70 ft high; young shoots pale green, clothed with viscid gland-tipped hairs; brown and warted the second year. Leaves opposite, broadly ovate with a heart-shaped base, slender-pointed, 6 to 12 in. long, 4 to 7 in. wide, dull green, nearly glabrous above, downy beneath, especially on the veins and midrib when young; stalk thick, 2 to 4 in. long, covered with sticky hairs similar to those of the young shoots. Panicles terminating the growths of the previous year, erect, pyramidal, 12 to 18 in. high, two-thirds as much wide. Corolla 3 in. long, tubular, divided at the mouth (where it is 21⁄2 in. wide) into five large rounded spreading lobes; downy outside; pale lilac with a large yellowish stain in the throat. Calyx bell-shaped, 1⁄2 in. long, with five deep recurved lobes covered with felt that is fawn-coloured inside, dark brown outside. Ovary and style glutinous; flower-stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, felted like the outside of the calyx. Fruits ovoid, 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. long, 3⁄4 to 1 in. wide, tapering at the top to a short slender point, brown. Bot. Mag., t. 8926-7.
Native of China (probably western). It was sent to Kew in 1908 by Maurice de Vilmorin and flowered there in June 1928. Judging by the behaviour of this tree it would seem better fitted for our average climate than P. tomentosa. It was sent to Kew as P. fargesii and seeds of it were distributed under that name. When it flowered and was figured for the Botanical Magazine Dr Sprague found it to be quite distinct from that species and gave it the above name. It received a First Class Certificate when shown from Exbury on May 16, 1944.
From the commoner P. tomentosa this species differs in unlobed leaves, in the more shortly hairy calyx and in the paler corolla with a widely expanded mouth.
The true P. fargesii Franch. was described in 1896 from a specimen collected by Père Farges in N.E. Szechwan, and may not be in cultivation. It has an oblong, spike-like inflorescence, with almost sessile cymes, and the leaves green and almost glabrous beneath.