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A deciduous tree 30 to 50 ft high; bark of trunk shining brown, ultimately peeling; shoots finely downy when quite young. Leaves lance-shaped, rounded or wedge-shaped at the base, long and slenderly pointed, finely and regularly toothed, 2 to 4 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, downy along the midrib beneath and in the chief vein-axils, sometimes glabrous or soon becoming so; there are several large glands at the base near the stalk, which is 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers white, 2⁄3 in. wide, produced usually in twos or threes (sometimes solitary or in fours) during April, each on its stalk 1⁄2 in. long. Calyx-lobes ovate-triangular, toothed; style finely downy towards the base. Fruits oval, 1⁄2 in. long, red.
Native of W. China; described from specimens collected by the Abbé Delavay in Yunnan; introduced by Wilson in 1908 from the region of Tatsien-lu (Kangting) in W. Szechwan and again by Forrest in 1913 from Yunnan. Wilson’s introduction (W. 988) was referred by Koehne to var. tibetica (Batal.) Koehne but there is no reliable character by which this variety can be distinguished from the Yunnan trees.
Two characters make this cherry distinct; one is the narrowness and fine toothing of the leaves which are rather willow-like; the other is the beautiful bright brown peeling bark, at least of young trees. This feature alone makes the tree worth cultivating, for it is not more striking in any tree of similar character. So far as I have seen its flower beauty is not great. A.M. 1944 (for its bark).
The following specimens have been recorded: Highdown, Sussex, pl. 1939, 20 × 3 ft (1965); Westonbirt, Glos., pl. 1937, 25 × 41⁄4 ft (Clay Island) and 30 × 3 ft (Morley Drive) (1965/6); Endsleigh, Devon, 55 × 4 ft (1963); Bodnant, Denb., 25 × 33⁄4 ft and 30 × 31⁄2 ft (1966).
This species was reintroduced by Roy Lancaster from western Szechwan in 1981.