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A deciduous shrub 5 to 8 ft high; young shoots angular, free from down. Leaves ovate to oval-lanceolate, toothed, with a long slender point and a rounded or broadly wedge-shaped base, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. wide, downy only on the midrib and chief veins beneath; stalk 1⁄8 to 3⁄8 in. long. Fruits globose, cinnabar-red, 1⁄4 in. wide, usually solitary on a very slender, purple-brown, pendulous, glabrous stalk 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long.
Native of the mountains of Central Japan where, according to Wilson, it is everywhere rare. He writes: ‘The first wild bush of this holly I had ever seen was about 6 ft high and as much in diameter, bearing thousands of its brilliantly coloured fruits suspended from slender stalks. I thought I had never seen, in fruit, a shrub so lovely.’ It has been growing in the Arnold Arboretum, Mass., since 1894 and succeeds admirably there. It was added to the Kew collection in 1926, but apparently had not previously been in cultivation in this country. It belongs to the Prinos or deciduous section of hollies, which includes I. verticillata and I. serrata, but is distinct from all cultivated species in the length of its fruit-stalks. The specific name refers to a curious joint or ‘knee’ on the terminal half of these stalks, which marks the place whence abortive flowers have fallen. When these remain on and develop, as they occasionally do, there may be three fruits on a stalk.