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A genus of about ten species, the hardy ones of which are found in N. America, Himalaya, Japan, and China. They are evergreen or deciduous shrubs, sometimes tree-like, with alternate leaves; flowers in terminal or axillary racemes or panicles, formed in autumn, but not opening until the following spring. Corolla more or less pitcher-shaped, five-toothed; calyx five-lobed and persistent; stamens ten. Seed-vessel a globose capsule.
All the pierises are handsome shrubs of neat habit, and great freedom in blossoming. They need the same conditions and treatment as rhododendron; that is, either a peaty soil or a light lime-free loam improved by the addition of decayed leaves. They are also moisture-lovers at the root. Propagation is effected by seed, by layering, or late summer cuttings.
The genus is revised by Walter S. Judd in Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, Vol. 63(2), pp. 103-44 (1982). The cultivars grown in the Savill and Valley Gardens, Windsor Great Park, are surveyed by John Bond in The Plantsman, Vol. 4(2), pp. 65-75 (1982). For an interesting note on propagation by Geoffrey Yates, see Gardeners’ Chronicle, April 12, 1985, pp. 29-30.