Shrub or tree to 10 m (possibly more). Branchlets finely pubescent to glabrous. Leaves imparipinnate, 15–40 cm long; leaflets (3–)5–13, elliptic to ovate or rarely lanceolate, 4.5–17 × 2–8 cm, papery, oil glands conspicuous, upper surface largely glabrous, but with dense pubescence on the midrib, lower surface partially glaucous, sparsely to densely pubescent, 9–17 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire or irregularly crenulate, apex acuminate; petiolule 0–0.9 cm long; rachis finely pubescent. Inflorescences 2.5–18 cm long, finely to densely pubescent; pedicels 0–0.4 cm long. Flowers mainly 5-merous (occasionally 4-merous); sepals finely to densely pubescent, petals green to yellow to white, 0.3–0.5 cm long. Follicles in groups of one to five, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, subglobose, 0.35–0.6 cm long. Seeds black, one per follicle, paired with an aborted seed, attached to follicle via a strip of tissue. Hartley 1981, Chang & Hartley 1993. Distribution BHUTAN; CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; INDIA: Assam, Sikkim; MYANMAR; NEPAL; TAIWAN. Cultivated in Japan. Habitat Mid-altitude forest. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT23, NT850, NT851. Cross-references S233 (as Euodiababeri), K55 (as E. ruticarpa). Taxonomic note By orthographic mutation, Roy Lancaster’s introduction L 594, under the name T. baberi, has become T. faberi on some labels.
Tetradium ruticarpum was apparently not successfully introduced by the earlier generation of plant collectors in China (Flanagan 1988), but recent expeditions have more than made up for the omission and it is now to be found in many collections across our area. It is frequently labelled T. baberi, although this combination seems never to have formally been made from Euodiababeri. The name T. baberi is particularly associated with Roy Lancaster’s collection (L 594) made on Emei Shan in 1980, which contends for priority with the introduction made by the SABE team from Hubei in the same year (SABE 1947), that has also been widely distributed. Given its broad range it is not surprising that collections of T. ruticarpum have come from diverse areas, including Taiwan (BSWJ 3541, for example, made in 1996). Tetradium ruticarpum grows rapidly and well, flowering when young. It enjoys the heat of the eastern United States, as evidenced by vigorous trees seen at the JC Raulston Arboretum (planted in 1996 and up to 8 m in 2006), but is also happy with cooler summer conditions. At Tregrehan it has shot up to nearly 10 m in eight years. It can be expected to make a broad-crowned rather than tall tree, however (T. Hudson, pers. comm. 2005). As with T. fraxinifolium, the young leaves are reddish brown but expand to a deep green, that admirably sets off the pale inflorescences. The red fruits are very handsome.