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A small deciduous tree or large shrub; winter-buds up to 3⁄8 in. long, scales tomentose on the back; young branchlets tomentose at first, glabrous the second year, or glabrous from the start. Leaves broad-ovate, acuminate to caudate at the apex, or sometimes roundish with a cuspidate or short-acuminate apex, base rounded or rounded-truncate, mostly 13⁄4 to 31⁄4 in. long, 11⁄4 to 2 in. wide, finely crenated at the margin, thinly leathery, dark green above, light green below, more or less hairy on the midrib and main veins beneath, glabrous at maturity; petioles slender, 3⁄8 to 13⁄8 in. long, tomentose at first, becoming glabrous. Inflorescence of six to twelve flowers, borne on a short densely hairy or glabrous peduncle. Flowers 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. across; pedicels glabrous to tomentose, 3⁄8 to 13⁄16 in. long, rarely slightly longer. Calyx-tube widely and shallowly cup-shaped, glabrous; sepals narrowly triangular, finely woolly on the inside. Petals broadly obovate or suborbicular with a short claw. Stamens twenty. Ovary glabrous, or tomentose like the pedicels. Styles two or three. Fruits globose or obovoid, 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. wide, brownish, densely white-dotted, borne on stiff stalks 5⁄8 to 2 in. long; calyx deciduous.
Native of Central and S. China; described in 1872 from a specimen collected by the French missionary J. Callery, among whose achievements was the compilation of a Chinese-Latin dictionary. It was introduced by Wilson from Hupeh in 1908 but, apart from colouring well in the autumn in some years, it really has nothing to commend it as an ornamental. Recently two cultivars have been introduced from the USA, namely; ‘Bradford’, selected at the Plant Introduction Station, Glenn Dale, Maryland, from trees raised from seed collected by F. Meyer in China in 1918; and ‘Chanticleer’, raised by Edward Scanlon. The former makes a dense, vigorous tree up to at least 50 ft high and 30 ft wide; ‘Chanticleer’ is described as having a narrowly conical crown. Both give good autumn colour in the USA.
The above description includes f. tomentella Rehd., an extreme form with the branchlets, young leaves, pedicels and ovaries notably tomentose.
Two species related to P. calleryana are P. fauriei Schneid. from Korea and P.
P. ‘Chanticleer’ is proving to be a tree of many virtues, suitable for industrial areas owing to its resistance to atmospheric pollution and growing well on all soils. Its flowers make a fine display in spring, as the leaves unfold, and it gives good late autumn colour. The broader ‘Bradford’ is also excellent.