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An evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub to about 3 ft high; uppermost internodes (i.e., those immediately under the flowers or at the ends of vegetative shoots) strongly flattened and two- or four-lined, the adjacent (older) ones four-angled, mature stems terete. Leaves short-stalked, ovate, ovate-oblong or lanceolate oblong, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, obtuse and usually apiculate at the apex, dark green above, rather glaucous beneath. Flowers golden yellow about 2 in. wide, cup-shaped, borne singly or in few-flowered cymes. Sepals erect, broadly ovate to almost orbicular, finely toothed, usually mucronate at the apex. Stamens about half as long as the petals, in five bundles. Styles almost as long as the ovary, free.
Native of S.W. China; cultivated and naturalised in Japan; described by Thunberg in 1784 from a Nagasaki garden; introduced from Japan by Oldham in 1862. It is now very rare in gardens. In previous editions it was said to be not quite hardy but to produce stems 1 to 2 ft long if cut to the ground by frost, bearing their flowers from July to October.
H. uralum D. Don H. patulum var. uralum (D. Don) Koehne – This species is closely allied to H. patulum but has smaller leaves and flowers, and entire sepals. It is quite a pretty and fairly hardy shrub, flowering in August and September; introduced 1820. Native of the central and eastern Himalaya, and of Indochina and Sumatra. The epithet uralum derives from the native name for the species (urala swa).
The description of H. patulum on page 421 is of the species interpreted in a wide sense (i.e., including H. henryi, mentioned below). H. patulum as now understood is a spreading shrub, with stems that are at first four-lined or four-angled, becoming two-lined or terete. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate to ovate, obtuse to rounded and always apiculate at the apex. It was reintroduced in 1980 from a monastery garden on Mount Omei (Lancaster 623).
† H. henryi Léveillé & Vaniot – This, like H. uralum, is closely related to H. patulum, and only recently accepted as distinct from it by Dr Robson. In its typical state (subsp. henryi) it differs from H. patulum in its erect or arching branches; stems persistently four-lined; leaves elliptic or ovate-lanceolate or ovate, acute to rounded, rarely apiculate at the apex. It is a native of central and eastern Yunnan and of Kweichow; in cultivation from Lancaster 753 and the Sino-British Expedition’s SBEC(K) 151, both from the Kunming area.
subsp. uraloides (Rehd.) N. Robson H. uraloides Rehd. – From subsp. henryi (and from H. patulum) this differs in the narrowly elliptic to ovate-lanceolate leaves, usually acute at the apex, and in the entire, elliptic to narrowly oblong or obovate sepals. It is indeed near to H. uralum, as the epithet implies, but in that species the lateral branchlets tend to lie all in one plane, making the branches fernlike (frondose), and the sepals are relatively broader. It was originally described from a specimen collected by Wilson in western Szechwan, but its main distribution is in Yunnan. Forrest found it in the Tali range (Cangshan) early this century and it is now in cultivation from seeds collected there by the Sino-British Expedition of 1981, and in the Kunming area by Roy Lancaster (L.754).
The third subspecies distinguished by Dr Robson is subsp. Hancockii N. Robson, which ranges from Yunnan to Sumatra.
H. uralum – This species is portrayed in Bot. Mag., t.2375 (1823), from the original introduction. H. uralum does not occur, as stated, in Indochina and Sumatra; the hypericum concerned is the related H. henryi subsp. hancockii (see above). H. uralum is a native only of the Himalaya, where it extends farther west than stated, and of south-east Tibet and northern Burma. It was reintroduced by the University of North Wales Expedition to Nepal in 1971 (B.L. & M. 237).
† H. lancasteri N. Robson – Near to H. stellatum but with a more southern distribution and differing from it in, among other characters, the stouter inflorescence branches and the slightly shorter, more upright styles. The flowers are of the same form as in H. stellatum, up to eleven in each inflorescence. It was described in 1985 from a specimen collected above Tali in 1981 by the Sino-British Expedition, but had been found earlier by Forrest in the same area. It is in cultivation from seeds collected by Roy Lancaster and by Keith Rushforth near Kunming late in 1980 (L.649, L.750, KR 327).
† H. curvisepalum N. Robson – Also now in cultivation and described in 1985, this is another ally of H. stellatum differing from it and from H. lancasteri in the cup-shaped flowers and much shorter styles. All three species are figured in Robson, op. cit. (1985), fig. 19.