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An evergreen climber of vigorous habit, growing 20 to 30 ft high; stems hollow, twining, densely covered with spreading hairs when young, green or reddish purple. Leaves variable in shape, from elliptic to broad elliptic or ovate, rounded or truncate or cuneate at the base, apex acute or sometimes rounded and then narrowed abruptly to an acuminate tip, 11⁄4 to 31⁄4 in. long, margins ciliate, the blade varying in indumentum from downy or villous above and villous beneath (especially on the veins) to almost glabrous; although normally entire they are not infrequently lobed; leaf-stalk about 3⁄16 in. long. Flowers fragrant, produced from June onwards in pairs from the leaf-axils on peduncles 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long; bracts leaflike, ovate or elliptic, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Corolla 11⁄4 to almost 2 in. long, hairy on the outside, white or purple-tinged, ageing to yellow; limb two-lipped, the upper lip varying from shorter to longer than the tube. Ovary glabrous. Fruits black, not united.
Native of Japan, China, and Korea; for date of introduction see under var. repens. It is a variable species and the above description is a generalised one. The plant (probably a cultivated one) from which Thunberg described the species, had flowers purple outside and leaves hairy beneath, but this typical variety is probably not in cultivation here, all the garden plants having the leaves quite or almost glabrous beneath when mature.
Leaves mostly less than 2 in. long, sometimes pinnately lobed, the veins and midrib picked out in bright yellow. A very effective variegated plant in summer, but often killed back a good deal in winter. It flowers quite freely against a wall. Introduced by Fortune, shortly before 1862.
L. brachypoda var. repens Sieb.
L. flexuosa Thunb.
L. japonica vat. flexuosa (Thunb.) Nichols.
L. brachypoda DC.
L. chinensis Wats.
L. japonica var. chinensis (Wats.) Baker