A hybrid clone of wild origin, making a shrub to 2 m with a rather trailing habit, semi-evergreen but its leaves turning burgundy in a cold winter. Stems reddish to purple; leaf-pairs arranged consecutively crossways. Leaves to 5 cm long, rather prominently and jaggedly toothed, sharply pointed, thick and leathery, glossy above. Flowers June-August, unscented. Corolla 4 cm long, purplish pink with orange markings in the throat and a widely inflated mouth (Landrein et al. 2017; Dirr 2009).
Distribution China Collected in Sichuan.
Habitat Mountain forests
USDA Hardiness Zone 6b
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Because of their sparing seed-production, late in autumn, Abelias are seldom collected in the wild. This taxon was collected in Sichuan (probably around Luding) by the great horticulturalist Maurice Foster around the turn of the 21st century, and was named after him by Peter Catt of Liss Forest Nursery in Hampshire, who distributed scions. This was one of several cultivated selections whose genes were studied by Sven Landrein (Landrein et al. 2017), who concluded that it represents a natural hybrid between Abelia macrotera var. zabelloides (a taxon not in cultivation in the west) and A. schumannii. Herbarium specimens from this part of China often show similar characteristics, though the parent taxa themselves can be very hard to differentiate visually (Landrein & Farjon 2020). It may also be said that ‘Maurice Foster’ closely resembles A. uniflora from eastern China (Landrein et al. 2017).
‘Maurice Foster’ was sent to the United States by Catt in 2006 (Dirr 2009); in the climate of Georgia it is semi-evergreen and turns burgundy-purple through winter (Dirr 2009). What seems likely to be the same plant has recently resurfaced in the (2021 catalogue) of Brighton Plants Nursery in West Sussex, whose proprietor Steve Law recommends its vigour and ease of cultivation.