Shrub to 2 m, semi-evergreen in a mild climate, with flexible hollow stems. Leaves ovate-lanceolate, 70–120 × 25–65 mm, base rounded to cordate, tip long-pointed, almost glabrous, with sunken veins; margin slightly involute, remotely toothed; glaucous beneath; petiole 5–10 mm long. Flowers in late autumn; inflorescence a hanging, stalked spike of paired flowers, in the leaf-axils; pairs of flowers 2–6, with 3 ovate to lanceolate bracts per flower, the bracts fringed with glandular hairs. Sepals fused and shallowly cup-shaped in the lower part; lobes linear to lanceolate, 1.5–2 mm. Corolla funnel-shaped, white, 1–2 cm long, glabrous; petals ovate to rounded-ovate, 5–7 mm. Stamens slightly shorter than corolla. Berry red, ripening brilliant indigo-purple in spring, oblong or ellipsoid, 10–13 mm long. (Flora of China 2021).
Distribution Bhutan Myanmar In the far north of the country China Xizang, Yunnan India In the Himalaya Nepal
Habitat Forests and thickets, 2000–3800 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Although a widespread species in the eastern Himalayas, Leycesteria gracilis lacks the showy flowers of L. formosa. Its violet-blue fruit, clustered under each leaf, are spectacular but the plant’s habit of ripening these through the winter months may limit their production in Europe. The plant’s first introduction to the west seems to have been by Himalayan plant experts Cédric Basset and Manon Rivière of Pépinières Aoba in eastern France; in the nursery’s 2021 (online catalogue) scions are advertised as ‘coming soon’, and the stock is suggested to be at least as hardy as L. crocothyrsos.