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A genus which, as now interpreted by most botanists, comprises some twenty species of shrubs and subshrubs, natives of E. and S.E. Asia and Malaysia. For other species included in Neillia in previous editions, see Physocarpus.
Leaves alternate, simple, with toothed lobes; stipules large, deciduous. Flowers in racemes or panicles. Petals five, rounded, often pink, inserted on the rim of the shortly five-lobed calyx-tube (receptacle). Stamens in one to three whorls of ten each. Carpels one or two, enclosed within the calyx-tube but not adnate to it, each developing into a follicle splitting down one side only. Seeds several, unwinged, with copious endosperm. In Spiraea stipules are absent and the seeds have little or no endosperm.
The genus was named by David Don in honour of his friend Patrick Neill (1776-1851), a well-known Scottish naturalist.
The principal works on the genus are: J. Vidal, 'Le Genre 'Neillia', published in Adansonia, n.s., Vol. 3 (1963), pp. 142-66, and J. Cullen, 'The Genus Neillia (Rosaceae) in Mainland Asia and in Cultivation', published in Journ. Arn. Arb., Vol. 52 (1971), pp. 137-58.