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A dioecious shrub usually under 4 ft high, sometimes prostrate. Leaves light green, up to almost 7 in. long, oblanceolate or oblong-elliptic, mostly tapering to the base for about two-thirds of their length, emitting when crushed a very heavy and, to some people, disagreable odour; petiole stout, up to 1⁄2 in. long. Inflorescence short and very compact. Sepals five, ovate, acute, or obtuse. Petals five, yellow, erect, with strongly incurved margins. Stamens about equalling the corolla, with orange anthers. Fruits dull red, up to almost 1⁄2 in. long, with two or three stones. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 789.
Native of the western Himalaya as far east as W. Nepal, extending into eastern Afghanistan; it appears to be common in the undergrowth of coniferous forest, up to 13,000 ft. The first recorded introduction was in 1841, when Dr Royle sent seeds to the garden of the Horticultural Society at Chiswick, though some nurseries may already have had it at that time. For the next decade it was the only species of Skimmia in gardens, but earned no praise and was soon overshadowed, first by S. reevesiana and later by S. japonica. By 1889 it was so little known in gardens that Dr Masters purposedly omitted it from his treatment of the cultivated skimmias, published in that year. It has, however, persisted in gardens. The male plant figured in the Botanical Magazine grows at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, and is an old one, of unrecorded origin. There is a female plant in the Hillier Arboretum near Romsey, Hants. Judging from these plants, S. anquetilia seems to be the least ornamental of the skimmias, the flower-trusses being small in relation to the size of the leaves, and the flowers unpleasantly scented.
S. anquetilia was first named in 1980 in the Botanical Magazine. Previously it had been known as S. laureola, a name that belongs properly to the very distinct black-fruited skimmia named S. melanocarpa by Rehder and Wilson. How this confusion arose is explained by Mr Taylor and Mr Airy Shaw in their article. From the other species of Skimmia it is easily distinguished by the combination of: leaves mostly tapering straight-sidedly from above the middle, yellow pentamerous flowers in small inflorescences, erect petals and red fruits.