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Tree to 10 m. Immature shoots and leaves densely white-tomentose. Buds ~1 cm, ovoid, reddish brown with white hairs. Leaves to 15 cm long, with four to eight (to nine) pairs of leaflets. Leaflets to 4.6–5 × 1.1–1.9 cm, margins dentate in the upper half, lower surface papillose. Stipules large, 1 × 1 cm with ~6 teeth. Inflorescences erect, even in fruit. Fruit elliptic, 0.7 × 0.7 cm, shiny crimson; sepals fleshy, carpels three to four. Sexual diploid (2n = 34). McAllister 2005a. Distribution BHUTAN; CHINA: Yunnan; INDIA: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim; MYANMAR; NEPAL; VIETNAM: Ha Giang. Habitat Low-altitude forest. Often an epiphyte. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Lower Risk.
Contrary to the usual view that rowans are a hardy breed of mountaineers, Sorbus wallichii is a tree from rather low altitudes, growing in subtropical laurel-oak forest over much of the southern flank of the eastern Himalaya, sometimes as an epiphyte. In consequence it is not very hardy, and is only suitable for mild, sheltered sites. McAllister (2005a) records a long-established tree at Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight, and notes that specimens of KR 1272 from Bhutan have survived –7 ºC. It is rare in cultivation, but collections made by Keith Rushforth in Yunnan and Vietnam are also being grown (K. Rushforth, pers. comm. 2008). The white-hairiness of the young growth is unique and makes it sound very tempting, but trees seen at Ness are rather thin and straggly.