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Tree probably to 10–15 m. Branchlets deep red. Buds conical to ovoid, to 1.2 cm long with reddish brown and/or white hairs on the margins and at the apex of the scales. Leaves to 20.5 cm long, with six to seven pairs of leaflets, gradually decreasing in size towards the petiole. Leaflets 4.5–5 × 2–2.4 cm, obovate, upper surface bluish green and glabrous, lower surface somewhat papillose, margins entire or almost so; leaves turning reddish orange or reddish yellow in autumn. Fruit crimson to pink, 0.8 × 0.8 cm and rather hard; calyx lobes very fleshy, carpels (three to) four (to five). Tetraploid apomict (2n = 68). McAllister 2005a. Distribution CHINA : Yunnan (Cangshan range). Habitat Scrub on steep slopes. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration McAllister 2005a; NT801.
Sorbus carmesina is an apomictic microspecies in section Discolores of subgenus Albocarmesinae (see p. 797), very closely related to S. pseudohupehensis, from which it differs only slightly. Its fruits are larger than those of S. pseudohupehensis, ripen later and remain crimson for several months before turning pinkish, and – most importantly from a horticultural viewpoint – the trees fruit every year, unlike the biennial fruiting of S. pseudohupehensis. The autumn leaves are red, but with shades of yellow and orange. It is represented in cultivation by young trees grown from seed collected by Chris Brickell and Alan Leslie (B&L 12545) in the Cangshan range near Dali, Yunnan in 1987, and their derivatives. Its ultimate dimensions are not known, but may be assumed to be about the same as those of S. pseudohupehensis. Like other species of section Discolores it is relatively heat- and drought-tolerant in comparison with other Sorbus, especially when grown on its own roots. It is therefore suitable for warmer areas where even S. aucuparia may fail to thrive.