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Tree to 15 m. Bark smooth, grey. Branchlets glabrous or minutely pubescent initially. Leaves 5–10 × 4–9 cm, broadly ovate, upper surface glabrous, lower surface with patchy stellate indumentum, eroding to leave only a few hairs in the vein axils, six to seven secondary veins on each side of the midvein, base obliquely truncate or cordate, margins serrate, apex acuminate or acute; petiole 2.5–4 cm long, sparsely pubescent to glabrous. Inflorescences 5–8 cm long, with 4–10 flowers; bracts 7–9 cm long, narrowly oblanceolate, pubescent on both surfaces, usually stalked. Sepals lanceolate, ~0.5 cm long, outer surface pubescent; petals ~0.7 cm long; stamens numerous; staminodes five, petaloid, smaller than petals; ovary pubescent. Fruit globose, ~0.9 cm long, tomentose. Flowering June to July (China). Forest 1983, Tang et al. 2007. Distribution CHINA: Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang. Habitat Forests. USDA Hardiness Zone 7–8. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Forest 1983, Belgische Dendrologie Belge 2005 2006; NT859. Cross-references S516, K395.
The eastern Chinese species Tilia chingiana is not well known in gardens, although seed collected in the Lushan, Jiangxi was received from China in 1938 by Lord Rosse. Three specimens grown from this seed persist at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, the largest of which had reached 11.5 m by 2002 (Johnson 2003). Trees derived from this introduction are found elsewhere as well (a specimen at the Hillier Gardens, for example, was measured at 12.5 m in 2008) and are the source of material recently distributed commercially in the United Kingdom and Europe (D. Pigott, pers. comm. 2005). The species has also been reintroduced by Donald and Sheila Pigott, from Guling, also in the Lushan, in 1996. The leaves are ovate, with hairs only in the vein axils of the lower surface, distinguishing it from several other Chinese species in which the underside of the leaf is hairy all over. The leaves can sometimes achieve huge size on vigorous young shoots. It seems to be hardy and easy to grow, and will flower in late July and early August, thus continuing the season into later summer.