An evergreen tree to c. 10 m tall, often multi-stemmed and with an untidy habit when young. Young shoots densely hairy. Leaves leathery, oblong, to 6.5 × 3 cm, dark green above, pale or glaucous beneath; margins entire and distinctly wavy, or else very shallowly toothed in the upper half of the leaf. Leaves on vigorous young plants may occasionally be subtended by a pair of smaller lateral leaflets. Flowers 5–6 cm across. (Cullen et al. 2011; pers. obs.).
USDA Hardiness Zone 8b-11
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
This hybrid between E. cordifolia of Chile and E. lucida of Tasmania arose in cultivation at Trengwainton, Cornwall in the 1930s and was exhibited at an RHS show alongside E. × splendens (E. ‘Madron’) in 1954. The latter quickly fell into obscurity and remained there until very recently, while for many years ‘Penwith’ was mistakenly considered to be a selection of E. × hillieri (Bean 1981). Indeed, it is still possible to find examples in collections and nurseries labelled as such (pers. obs.). It wasn’t until the publication of the Bean Supplement that the true parentage of ‘Penwith’ was clarified in major literature (Clarke 1988).
Even before this clarification this hybrid was acknowledged as ‘exquisite’ and ‘not planted as much as its merits deserve’ (Wright 1983). ‘Penwith’ can be particularly vigorous in youth, capable of 60–90 cm of growth in a single season in ideal conditions, and plants often flower from a young age (Wright 1983). The foliage is particularly handsome, generally resembling E. lucida but noticably larger, with pronounced wavy-edged leaves and larger flowers (Hillier & Coombes 2002). The Tree Register’s online database lists only two examples, the largest a tree just shy of 10 m height growing at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens under the accession number 1976.9362, although this record has not been updated since 2007 (The Tree Register 2021). An even larger tree grows still in the walled garden at Trengwainton. Overlooked for decades, it may be the original tree or else a sister seedling (Christian 2021).
Generally seen and sold simply as Eucryphia ‘Penwith’, the binomial E. × penwithensis was published in 2021 at the same time that the rediscovery of ‘Madron’ was reported in The Plant Review, in order that all known eucryphia hybrids should have a name in this format.
Discussed in the entry for E. × penwithensis.