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A genus of about thirty evergreen or deciduous shrubs and small trees, found in E. Asia and the Himalaya, also in N. America, Mexico, and the West Indies. Leaves alternate, usually toothed. Flowers in axillary racemes or clusters on the previous year’s wood; flower-stalks with a pair of bractlets at the base. Calyx-lobes valvate in bud. Corollas cylindrical, egg-shaped, urn-shaped, or globular urn-shaped. Stamens usually ten in number; anthers without apical awns (but in some species spur-like appendages occur on the filaments under the anthers). Fruits capsular, the valve-margins paler than the rest of the surface and usually much thickened. See further under Pieris, to which genus Lyonia is closely allied. For a note on the cultivated species by John Ingram, with key and figures, see Baileya, Vol. 11, pp. 29–35.
The genus commemorates John Lyon, a famous collector of North American plants, who died about 1818 during one of his expeditions to the mountains of the United States – the ‘savage and romantic mountains which had so often been the theatre of his labours’.
The genus is revised by Walter S. Judd in Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, Vol. 62 (1981). The species appearing in the main work are treated in the second part, pp. 129–209. The first part is a survey of the genus (pp. 63–128) and the last part (pp. 315–436) is devoted to subtropical species.