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A shrub or small tree; branchlets glabrous; winter-buds about 1⁄2 in. long, glabrous except for a few hairs at the edge of the scales. Leaves with four to six pairs of leaflets, which are oblong, 7⁄8 to 21⁄2 in. long, up to 7⁄8 in. wide, obtuse and acuminately tipped or subacute at the apex, glabrous, glaucous green above, glaucous beneath, toothed mostly only in the upper half. Flowers in small, glabrous clusters 2 to 3 in. wide. Calyx-lobes with a few rusty hairs at the edge. Petals much longer than the stamens. Styles five. Fruits red, ellipsoid to globose, about 3⁄8 in. or slightly more long.
Native of the mountains of Japan (Hokkaido and northern part of the main island). It is probably not in cultivation (1979), and judging from herbarium specimens it is unlikely to be of much ornamental value. In previous editions it was stated to have been introduced in 1912, but the plant received by Kew in that year from Messrs Lemoine proved to be not S. matsumurana but S. commixta. The confusion may have arisen from the fact that plants raised by Späth from seed sent from the Arnold Arboretum as Pyrus discolor (or P. aucuparia var. discolor) were pronounced by Koehne in 1901 to be S. matsumurana, at a time when he knew them only as young seedlings. This introduction was in fact S. commixta. Another sorbus fairly common in collections, distributed originally by Messrs Marchant as S. matsumurana, is also a form of S. commixta and is mentioned under that species.
S. matsumurana finds its nearest ally in S. sitchensis of N. America.