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An evergreen shrub 1 to 5 ft high; young shoots furnished with scattered bristles pointing forwards. Leaves leathery, oblong, narrowly oval or oblanceolate, pointed, tapered at the base, shallowly toothed, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark bright green above, paler beneath and at first sprinkled with bristles, which fall and leave dark brown spots; stalk about 1⁄8 in. long. Racemes slender, 1 to 2 in. long, produced from the axils of the leaves in spring over the whole length of the previous season’s shoots; main flower-stalk angular, downy, white. Corolla rather globose, 1⁄5 in. wide, waxy white; calyx-lobes ovate, minutely ciliate. Fruits egg-shaped to globose, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long, the colour described by Forrest as ‘light China to Prussian blue’, each on its stalk about 1⁄8 in. long.
Native of Yunnan, China; discovered by Forrest in 1906 at altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 ft on the eastern flank of the Tali Range. The flowers are fragrant and the whiteness of the main and secondary flower-stalks adds to the beauty of the plant. It is in cultivation, seems to be fairly hardy, and should make an attractive addition to peat-loving evergreens, but chiefly in regard to its flowers. The late Francis Hanger of the R.H.S. gardens at Wisley considered it the best of the gaultherias in that respect, but poor (in this country) in regard to its fruits.
G. forrestii received an Award of Merit when shown from Trewithen, Cornwall, in 1937 and it still flourishes there. The plant that was given this award ten years earlier proved later not to be the true species, but probably a form of G. tetramera.
This was reintroduced in 1981 by the Sino-British Expedition to Yunnan (1226).
[G. caudata] – This species, described from Yunnan specimens, was merged by Mr Airy Shaw with the Himalayan G. griffithiana Wight. It is in cultivation from seeds collected in Nepal by A. D. Schilling, and SBEC 0083 from Yunnan is probably this species.