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An evergreen shrub said to attain a height of 12 ft in the wild, but usually 2 to 4 ft high in cultivation; stems glabrous, hollow except for fine plates of pith. Leaves glabrous, ovate-lanceolate, 11⁄4 to 4 in. long, slenderly tapered at the apex to an acute point, finely and irregularly serrated or entire, fairly conspicuously net-veined on both sides. Racemes axillary, peduncled, few-flowered; pedicels slender, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long. Calyx-lobes triangular. Corolla cylindric, white, about 3⁄8 in. long; filaments of stamens with an S-shaped bend near the apex; anthers not awned.
A native of the S.E. United States; introduced 1765, but not common in gardens. It is the only representative in the USA of the section Agastia, whose other members are found in Central America and Brazil. It is an elegant foliage-shrub, hardy in a sheltered place south of London and westwards. Its wood was used by the Indians for making pipe-stems.
This species has been transferred to the genus Agarista as A. populifolia (Lam.) Judd.
The typical section of this genus has its main development in South America, while the other section, which is monotypic, occurs in Central Africa and Madagascar. It is not treated in this work.