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An evergreen shrub, 2 to 4 ft high, the young shoots covered with a dark minute down. Leaves densely set on the twigs (about 1⁄8 in. apart), ovate, minutely toothed, 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, very uniform, dark green above and glabrous except for a little dark down on the midrib, paler and minutely pitted beneath with a tiny bristle in each cavity; stalk downy, 1⁄12 in. long. Flowers produced during June in short, dense racemes from the leaf-axils, and on the lower side of the twigs. Corolla rosy pink, cylindrical, about 1⁄4 in. long; stamens hairy; calyx with five triangular lobes; flower-stalks downy. Berries red, 1⁄5 in. in diameter. Bot. Mag., t. 6872.
Native of the northern and central Andes; described from Peru; introduced by Hartweg about 1840 from the slopes of Mt Pichincha in Ecuador. It is damaged only in severe winters and succeeds admirably in the Heath Garden at Wakehurst Place in Sussex. It was also grown for over twenty-five years by R. B. Cooke in his garden in Northumberland. It is a particularly neat and pleasing shrub, although its flowers and fruits are hidden by the foliage. Its chief attraction is the beautifully red-tinted young growths, for which alone it deserves a place in any collection of ericaceous shrubs.
V. floribundum is of peculiar interest as affording one of the very few instances of a shrub found wild within a few miles of the equator, yet hardy enough to grow and flower in Britain. The fruits are sold in the market of Quito, and from the name ‘mortina’ by which they are known there the specific epithet used by Bentham was adapted.