Viburnum carlesii Hemsl.
A deciduous shrub of rounded habit, 4 to 8 ft high; young shoots densely clothed with starry down. Leaves broadly ovate, with often a slightly heart-shaped base, pointed, irregularly toothed, 1 to 31⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. wide, dull green above, greyish below, both surfaces soft with starry down; stalk about 1⁄4 in. long. Inflorescence a terminal, rounded cluster 2 to 3 in. across, composed of very fragrant flowers, all fertile. It reaches the bud state in autumn, and remains exposed through the winter, the flowers expanding in April and May. Corolla 1⁄2 in. across, at first pink then white, with a slender tube 1⁄3 in. long. Fruits jet-black, 1⁄4 in. long, egg-shaped but flattened. Bot. Mag., t. 8114.
Native-of Korea and of Tsushima Island, Japan; described in 1885 from a specimen collected by W. R. Carles of the British Consular Service, who explored in Korea 1883-5. It was introduced from Korea to Japan around 1897 by Alfred Unger of L. Boehmer and Co. of Yokohama. A single plant was sent to Kew by this firm in 1902, which represented its first introduction to Europe; it flowered in the open ground at Kew in 1906. But the species was apparently first distributed in Europe by Messrs Lemoine, who announced in 1905 that they had bought Messrs Boehmer’s entire stock.
V. carlesii is one of the most delightful of the viburnums, not only for the beauty of its flowers, but for a fragrance unrivalled for sweetness in the genus. But it is now overshadowed by its hybrids; see below and V. × burkwoodii.
The following selections of V. carlesii were raised from Korean seed at the Slieve Donard Nursery, Co. Down:
cv. ‘Aurora’. – Flowers red in the bud, opening pure light pink. Young leaves light green, some flushed with copper.
cv. ‘Charis’. – Rather more vigorous than the older forms of V. carlesii. Flowers white.
cv. ‘Diana’. – Open flowers pink, with a slightly more purplish tone than in ‘Aurora’. It is also a little more vigorous. Young leave slight chocolate-coloured.
V. bitchiuense Makino V. carlesii var. bitchiuense (Makino) Nakai; V. carlesii var. syringiflorum Hutch. – Very closely allied to V. carlesii, but with relatively narrower, ovate or oblong, obtuse leaves, sometimes slightly cordate at the base. A further botanical difference has been given, namely that the stamens are inserted on the lower one-quarter to one-third of the tube and have filaments twice as long as the anthers, while in V. carlesii the stamens are inserted around the midpoint of the tube and the filaments are shorter than the anthers. As the two species are usually seen in gardens, V. bitchiuense is a taller shrub than V. carlesii, of more open habit, to about 8 ft high and as much in width, its laxer inflorescences are slightly smaller and the corollas narrower across the limb with a longer tube.
Native of southern Japan and Korea; described in 1902. It was introduced to Britain about 1911 as “V. carlesii” and was for a time regarded as an inferior form of that species. It was at one time used by Japanese export nurseries as a stock for V. carlesii and often the scion was dead by the time the plants arrived in this country. In this way poor forms were introduced to gardens. Eventually selections arrived, which proved to be almost as fine as V. carlesii itself.
V. × juddii Rehd. – A hybrid between V. carlesii (seed-parent) and V. bitchiuense, raised by William H. Judd at the Arnold Arboretum in 1920, though not described and named until 1935. In its botanical characters it is intermediate between the parents. The corymbs are rather laxer than in V. carlesii and a trifle wider with more numerous not quite so sweetly scented flowers. It is a plant of good constitution, growing to about 5 ft high. Award of Garden Merit 1960.