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A tree to 30 ft high in the wild; branchlets reddish, purplish or yellow-brown, glabrous and lustrous; buds purplish red. Leaves lanceolate, acuminately tapered at the apex, cuneate at the base, up to 6 in. long and 1 in. wide, rich lustrous green above, paler beneath, glabrous on both sides, or the undersurface persistently downy, margins crenate; petiole up to 1 in. long. Catkins appearing before the leaves; scales black at the tip, obtuse, densely hairy. Male catkins almost sessile, 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 in. wide; filaments of stamens glabrous, anthers yellow flushed with red at the tip. Female catkins slender; ovary ovoid, silky, long-stalked, with a slender style branched at the apex, stigmas slender, bifid.
Native of Sakhalin, N. Japan, the Russian Far East and E. Siberia; introduced to Kew in the 1920s. It is mainly represented in gardens by the shrubby ‘Sekka’ (‘Setsuka’). This is valued by flower-arrangers for the curious fasciated and contorted growths produced on some of the stems, which are deep brownish red on plants grown in sun. It is a male clone, and the handsome catkins are borne freely both on normal and fasciated growths. ‘Sekka’ is very vigorous and needs a space 10 ft wide even when pruned hard every spring, as it should be; unpruned, it attains about 15 ft in height. It was introduced from Japan by Messrs Spek of Holland about 1950.
S. sachalinensis is closely allied to S. udensis Trautv. & Mey., described earlier from the Okhotsk peninsula.
S. sachalinensis is allied to S. viminalis. Another east Asiatic representative of the same group is:
S. rehderiana Schneid. – A shrub or small tree to about 30 ft high; branchlets slender, dark brown or olive-green, glabrous or soon becoming so. Leaves lanceolate, slenderly acuminate, up to 5 in. long, glabrous above, silky beneath as in S. viminalis but sometimes becoming glabrous, margins shallowly glandular-crenate. Catkins before the leaves, the male about 1 in. long, half as wide. Ovary glabrous or sparsely silky, almost sessile; stigmas short, notched (hence very different from those of S. viminalis). Discovered by Wilson in W. Szechwan, China, and introduced by him by means of cuttings in 1908 and again in 1910.