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A deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub up to 3 or 4 ft high, with glabrous, red young shoots. Leaves of hardish texture, very shortly stalked, oval, ovate, oblong, or inclined to obovate, pointed, tapered or roundish at the base, bristly on the margin, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, more or less bristly and conspicuously net-veined beneath. Racemes terminal, up to 4 in. long, erect, bearing the flowers at 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. apart. Corolla bell-shaped, ivory-white to pinkish, 1⁄4 in. long, hairy inside; calyx-lobes ovate to ovate-lanceolate, membranous. Each flower springs from the axil of a linear or awl-shaped bract. Fruit flattened-globose, 1⁄5 in. wide.
Native of Japan; erroneously identified with L. chlorantha DC. by Asa Gray in 1859; given its present name by Maximowicz in 1873; introduced in 1890, but not very common. It is a gaultheria-like shrub, but dry-fruited. Nakai, the Japanese botanist, includes under it five varieties, typica, glabra, glaucina, venosa, and intermedia, based mainly on leaf characters, but judging by a long series of specimens in the Kew Herbarium, it will be difficult to differentiate them.
L. grayana is characterised by its terminal racemes, borne on leafy side-shoots of the current season, combined with its awnless anthers and flower-stalks with bracteoles, which are borne at some distance from the calyx. In L. racemosa and L. recurva the racemes are formed in late summer at the ends of side growths but do not open until the following year and the bracteoles on the flower-stalks are borne immediately under the calyx.
L. grayana flowers in June and July, and is quite hardy. The leaves turn purple or bronzy yellow in the autumn.
As remarked in the second paragraph, L. grayana is very variable, and Japanese botanists have recognised at least thirteen varieties and forms. If the species has to be subdivided, then the above description would correspond more or less to the var. oblongifolia (Miq.) Ohwi. Typical L. grayana has larger and broader leaves and is confined to Hokkaido and the northern part of the main island (Ohwi, Fl. Jap. (1965), p. 705).