Tree to 7 m. Branchlets initially covered in golden hairs, though quickly becoming glabrous. Leaves evergreen, alternate, 8–16 × 1.5–3.5 cm, lanceolate, leathery or papery, upper surface bright green and glabrous, lower surface grey-blue or yellow and glabrous, but with a fringe of golden hairs along the veins and midrib, 10–14 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins entire, apex acuminate. Inflorescence densely hairy, solitary and axillary. Flowers in groups of four to eight, blue-yellow, perianth slightly villous, nine fertile stamens and three staminodes. Fruit subglobose and 1.2 × 1 cm. Flowering May (China). Smith 1921. Distribution CHINA: Sichuan, Yunnan; INDIA: Sikkim. Habitat Moist forest. USDA Hardiness Zone 7–8. Conservation status Not evaluated.
Phoebe forrestii is growing at Quarryhill from a collection made by Charles Howick and Bill McNamara (H&M 1377) in Sichuan in 1990. These specimens have formed erect narrow trees with a straight main stem and ascending branches, the largest having reached 6.7 m tall and 3.7 m wide by early 2007. They are chlorotic through exposure to bright sunshine, and although apparently healthy, would probably benefit from higher rainfall and more shade (H. Higson, W. McNamara, pers. comms. 2004, 2007). The new shoots flush red-bronze, but when mature are a dull mid-green, slightly paler below. As with all Phoebe, the early summer flowers are insignificant.