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A small, erect slenderly branched shrub, usually less than 3 ft high; branchlets brown or yellow, glabrous at maturity; winter-buds yellowish, flattened and appressed. Leaves broadly lanceolate to roundish obovate, abruptly acuminate at the apex, the tip often bent sideways, 2 to 23⁄8 in. long, 5⁄8 to 13⁄16 in. wide, glabrous or sparsely hairy and reticulate above, glabrous and dull green or bluish green beneath, with the venation more or less prominent, margins glandular-serrate; petiole up to 3⁄16 in. long. Stipules broad-elliptic to obliquely oblate, coarsely toothed, nearly always present. Catkins lax, to about 11⁄4 in. long, produced before the leaves on short leafy peduncles; scales lanceolate, greenish yellow, sparsely hairy on the surface, ciliate. Filaments of stamens glabrous. Ovary densely hairy, long-stalked, the stalk about equalling the ovary itself in length, ovoid-conic, developing a long beak in the fruiting stage; stigmas erect, ovoid, on a very short style.
Native of north-eastern Europe extending southward to the foothills of the Alps and the northern Ukraine; absent from the British Isles and from the Alps proper.
S. bebbiana Sarg. S. rostrata Richardson, not Thuill.; S. livida var. rostrata (Richards.) Dipp.; S. depressa subsp. rostrata (Richards.) Hiitonen – This species is very closely allied to S. starkeana but is generally much more robust, growing to 25 ft high and with leaves up to 4 in. long (at least in American plants). It is also more variable, some forms being very near in their botanical characters to S. starkeana as represented in Europe, others less markedly so. S. bebbiana ranges in N. America from Newfoundland to Alaska, south to California, then across the Bering Straits to the Russian Far East and Siberia, perhaps as far west as Lapland. It was introduced to Kew from the Arnold Arboretum in 1889.