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A deciduous, semi-woody shrub 6 to 8 ft, perhaps more, high; young stems, leaves, leaf-stalks, and flower-stalks covered with a dense, brownish-yellow, shaggy down. Leaves trifoliolate; leaflets varying in shape from broadly ovate or rhomboidal to narrowly obovate; 1⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. long, often as much wide, usually three-lobed, but sometimes merely coarsely and irregularly toothed. The two side leaflets are much smaller than (usually about half the size of) the terminal one. Common stalk 1 to 2 in. long, that of the terminal leaflet 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long; the side leaflets are stalkless. Flowers white, tinged with pink, 13⁄4 in. diameter, produced singly on stalks 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, which spring from the joints of the previous year’s wood. Sepals four, broadly oblong, with a short, abrupt point; stamens not downy, forming a cluster 1 in. across. Seed-vessels terminated by a style 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, plumed with brownish golden hairs. Bot. Mag., t. 8395.
Native of Yunnan, China; discovered by Delavay in 1884; introduced to Kew in 1910, by Maurice de Vilmorin. It is a very charming and pretty plant, distinct in its short, erect habit, and its covering of shaggy down. It is found on mountain slopes and summits at 7,000 to 9,000 ft, but is rather tender at Kew.
In its typical state, and as first introduced to cultivation, this species is more of a shrub than a climber. The Kew plant figured in Bot. Mag., t.8395, which represents typical C. chrysocoma, proved tender and may have been lost to cultivation, where the species is represented by the hardier climbing var. sericea. What may prove to be the old shrubby form was reintroduced by Roy Lancaster from the Kunming area of Yunnan on 1980. However, it should be remarked that the Austrian botanist Handel-Mazzetti took the view that C. chrysocoma was simply a variable species, in which growth-form, indumentum and flower-colour were uncorrelated, and that the distinction drawn between the type and var. sericea was ‘quite artificial’.
C. spooneri Rehd. & Wils