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An evergreen shrub, rarely more than 6 to 12 ft high in this country, of bushy habit; twigs covered when young with minute dark down, becoming quite glabrous. Leaves glabrous, almost black-green, very glossy, ovate, 11⁄2 in. to 4 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, usually rounded, sometimes tapering at the base, taper-pointed at the apex; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers white, borne in terminal pyramidal panicles 4 to 8 in. high and as much wide; flower-stalks clothed with minute down. In bloom from July to September.
Native of N. China, Korea, Japan; introduced to Europe by Siebold in 1845. It is closely allied to L. lucidum, and much confused with it in gardens, but is a less vigorous shrub, its leaves are darker green, shorter, more rounded at the base, and the nerves beneath are raised, whereas in L. lucidum they are sunken; the corolla-tube is twice as long as the calyx and equal to the corolla-lobes in L. japonicum in contrast to equal to or slightly less than the lobes and the calyx in L. lucidum; furthermore the inflorescence is looser, and the young shoots minutely downy. It is a useful and effective evergreen because of the intensely dark shining foliage, but needs a sheltered spot.