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An evergreen shrub 6 to 10 ft high, in general appearance very much resembling I. ilicifolia in the holly-like leaves, which are not, on the whole, so strongly and spinily toothed or so frequently of rounded shape; they are 2 to 4 in. long, 11⁄4 to 2 in. wide, spine-tipped, dark glossy green and glabrous; stalks 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long and on the average longer than in I, ilicifolia. Flowers crowded on slender, arching, cylindrical racemes up to 7 in. long, each flower (stalk and all) only 1⁄4 in. long with narrowly linear, dull white petals. In the wild it flowers in May and June, later in cultivation.
Native of Yunnan, China; originally discovered by Delavay in 1883; introduced to cultivation by Forrest about 1918. It is closely related to I. ilicifolia, but on the average the leaves are narrower in proportion to their length, longer-stalked and less conspicuously toothed. Franchet alludes to the ‘included’ stamens, but in both species they appear to be about as long as the very narrow petals. It requires to be grown on a south wall at Kew. It does not promise to be any improvement on I. ilicifolia, especially as one sees the latter at Borde Hill, Sussex, laden every summer with graceful blossom.