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Shrub or tree to 10 m. Bark brown. Branchlets four-angled, densely covered with grey or brown hairs, rarely glabrous; older branches reddish or purplish brown, glabrous with white lenticels. Leaf buds exposed, covered with brown pubescence; floral buds pubescent. Leaves deciduous, 4–15 × 2.5–6.5 cm, papery, elliptic to ovate, upper surface dark green with sparse trichomes, lower surface pale green or greyish green, brown-white curling trichomes on veins or on the entire leaf surface, six to eight (to nine) secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins entire or crenulate, apex acuminate; petiole 1–3 cm long, covered in dense brown pubescence. Inflorescence terminal, corymbose cymes, 5–10 cm diameter, densely coated in yellow, brown or rarely, red curly trichomes, composed of numerous flowers; floral bracts minute and caducous. Flowers hermaphrodite, white, with petals to 0.4 cm long. Fruit a reddish or purplish black drupe, 0.4–0.6 cm diameter; stones eight-ribbed. Flowering May to July, fruiting August to October (China). Gardener 1979, Xiang & Boufford 2005. Distribution CHINA: Guizhou, southern and western Sichuan, southeastern Xizang, northern Yunnan. Habitat Forest and thickets on hillsides and in valleys, between 1100 and 3200 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 8–9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Cross-references B706 (as C. monbeigii), S185 (as C. poliophylla; now C. schindleri subsp. poliophylla (C.K. Schneid. & Wangerin) Q.Y. Xiang).
Under the name Cornus monbeigii, Bean (1976a) described this plant as ‘a shrub of no particular merit’. It had been introduced by George Forrest in 1917, obviously to no great acclaim. The only recent introductions of C. schindleri are several made by expeditions to Sichuan in the early 1990s (SICH 598 in 1991, SICH 693 in 1992), material from which was distributed to several gardens in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is potentially a small tree, similar to the somewhat more familiar C. walteri, with spreading branches bearing pendulous leaves and upward-facing inflorescences of small white flowers – probably of greater botanical interest than horticultural merit. In England it is not very satisfactory. Plants at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens are regularly cut to the ground by frost and sprout from the base (A. Coombes, pers. comm. 2008), and two surviving specimens at Kew are shrubby. Possibly it needs a hot summer to ripen the wood, as the SICH material has done well both at Quarryhill and at the David C. Lam Asian Garden in Vancouver, forming healthy small trees that flower in early summer (H. Higson, P. Wharton, pers. comms. 2007).