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Tree to 17 m, dbh 0.5 m. Branchlets dark brown to blackish brown, glabrous. Leaves deciduous, 7.5–17.5 3.5–7.5 cm, ovate to broadly elliptic to lanceolate, upper surface dark green, glabrous or with appressed hairs, lower surface glaucous, apex acuminate, lateral veins seven to eight per side, reticulate veins not prominent; petiole 1.2–2.5 cm. Male flowers in axillary cymes; pedicel 0.1 cm; calyx four-lobed; corolla pale yellow, urceolate with four lobes; stamens 16. Female flowers solitary, or two to three in cluster; calyx four-lobed, sparsely pubescent, expanding to 1.6 cm diameter in fruit; corolla yellowish, urceolate, c.0.7 cm, with four lobes. Fruit a glaucous yellow-orange to red rounded berry, 1.5–2(–3) cm diameter, with persistent enlarged calyx appressed to it at base. Seeds to 1.2 cm. Flowering April to July, fruiting September to November (China). Ohwi 1965, Li et al. 1996. Distribution CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, northwestern Guangdong, northeastern Guangxi, northwestern Guizhou, southwestern Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan (?), Zhejiang; JAPAN: Honshu, Kyushu, Ryukyu Is., Shikoku; TAIWAN (?). Habitat Mixed forests on slopes or in ravines, between 600 and 1300 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7b. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Li et al. 1996.
Diospyros japonica is another scarce tree, perhaps more frequently known in cultivation as D. glaucifolia, a name that referred to Chinese forms. Some of these are valued in China for their tasty fruits (Li et al. 1996), and it might be advantageous to make collections of this species from the selected fruits on market stalls rather than at random. It has been cultivated at Kew (as D. glaucifolia), although a 6 m specimen measured by Owen Johnson in 2001 seems to be no more; in 2006, however, Johnson recorded a 6 m tree at the Ventnor Botanical Garden, Isle of Wight (TROBI). At the Hillier Gardens there are two specimens, both about 2 m tall in 2007. They have big, bold leaves of a good glossy green, glaucous below, and the tree would be worth growing for its foliage qualities alone. It has not been traced in collections in North America, but young seedlings have been distributed from the JC Raulston Arboretum (2002 plant distribution), with a note that they show good yellow autumn colour and are not subject to the leaf-spot disease that affects D. virginiana.