Shrub to 3 m tall; shoots downy; young twigs brown to purplish, older wood ash-grey. Leaf subrhomboid to oblanceolate, to 4.5(–6) × 2 cm, base long-cuneate, tip shortly-pointed and mucronate; margin entire, densely ciliate; hairy on both sides and especially under the veins; petiole 3–4 mm, pubescent. Flowers May–June, in pairs at the branch-tips, with pedicels c. 2 mm, pubescent. Ovary almost smoothly tapering, sparsely pubescent. Sepals 4, linear-lanceolate, blunt-tipped, glabrous. Corolla white to pink, 1.6–1.8 cm long; style and stamens included. Fruiting in autumn; achenes almost smoothly tapering, winged, 1.3 cm, glabrous or very sparsely pubescent. (Koidzumi 1915).
Distribution Japan Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu North Korea South Korea
Habitat Mountain forests, rocky places.
USDA Hardiness Zone 5-6
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
The Japanese representative of the genus Zabelia, which is also found in Korea, has rather small leaves which tend to be broadest in the upper half and which can be carried like wings, above the horizontal; the paired slender white or pink flowers hang daintily under the fresh leaves in spring. This species is scarcely known in cultivation in the west, but a plant collected during the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Southern Japanese Expedition in 2006 (ESJE 197) is grown in the Edinburgh rock garden (20061475) (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 2021), and an example was planted at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina in 2008 (JC Raulston Arboretum 2021). In France the species has recently been introduced by Marion Basset-Lennoz as the clone ‘Bi-gout’ (q.v.) (Pepiniere des Avettes 2021).
A Japanese selection with strongly two-toned flowers (white, with reddish-pink markings on the outer side of the four corolla lobes), recently introduced to France by Marion Basset-Lennoz of Pépinière des Avettes (Pepiniere des Avettes 2021), and also advertised by 2021 by (Pépinières Aoba).