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A small tree or shrub, from 6 to 20 ft high, quite devoid of down in all its parts, the young shoots and conical buds purple, the former changing to red. Leaves oval or slightly obovate, entire, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, the apex terminated by a short, abrupt, bluntish tip, 4 to 8 in. long, 3 to 51⁄4 in. wide; dull grey-green (with a bloom) above, pale and slightly glaucous beneath; stalk 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, purplish. Male catkins 4 to 7 in. long; stamens two, four times as long as the scale. Female catkins longer, sometimes as much as 11 in.
Native of W. China; discovered in 1903 by Wilson in the mountains of Szechwan, at 9,000 ft altitude. It was not introduced at the time, and Wilson saw only two bushes then. In 1909 he found it again, and in abundance, 20 ft high. He sent cuttings to the Arnold Arboretum, where I saw it in 1910, and obtained it for Kew. This, I believe, was its first introduction to Europe. It is the most remarkable of all willows, and its leaves, in shape and colour, are more like those of Arbutus menziesii than a typical willow. Leaves have been borne on cultivated plants that measure 10 in. long, by 51⁄4 in. wide; the stalk 2 in. long. Wilson informed me that in a wild state the shoots change to red the first winter, and remain that colour for several years; also that the leaves die off a golden yellow. It has proved to be quite hardy.