Shrub or tree 5 –15 m, 0.15 m dbh. Branchlets sparsely covered in brown stellate tomentum. Leaves leathery, 3–8 × 1.5–4.5 cm, elliptic to obovate, upper surface sparsely covered with grey stellate tomentum, lower surface densely covered with grey stellate tomentum, six to seven secondary veins on each side of the mid-rib, margins minutely serrate towards the apex, apex acute to acuminate; petiole 0.1–0.3 cm long. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemose or paniculate; pedicels 0.5–1 cm long. Flowers numerous, 1 –1.5 cm long; calyx five-toothed, covered with yellowish grey tomentum, corolla tube 0.3 cm, lobes 1 cm, oblong, stamens shorter than corolla. Fruit obovoid, ~0.8 cm long, densely stellate-tomentose. Flowering March to June, fruiting July to August (China). (Hwang & Grimes 1996).
Distribution China southern Henan, western Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
Habitat Forest margins, between 500 and 1200 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7-8
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Bean (1981b) noted that this taxon (which he called Styrax dasyanthus var. cinerascens) had been introduced from the Lushan Botanic Garden in the 1930s as S. philadelphoides; not only was it not that species, however, but – he commented – the material received was itself very variable in its degree of pubescence. It was distributed by Hillier Nurseries as both S. philadelphoides and S. serrulatus (Hillier & Coombes 2002), but is now known to be S. serrulatus (A. Coombes pers. comm. 2008). It is not clear if any material from this introduction persists in cultivation, and the plant is evidently rare. A specimen growing in the JC Raulston Arboretum, labelled as S. calvescens, lacks the tomentose indumentum supposedly diagnostic for the species, but is correct in terms of leaf size and the paired flowers in the leaf axils.