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A shrub 3 to 5 ft high, of dense very leafy habit; young shoots downy. Leaves 1 to 13⁄4 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, varying from rhomboidal and tapering at both ends, to broadly ovate with a nearly truncate base, sometimes obscurely three-lobed, the upper part sharply and coarsely toothed, the teeth gland-tipped, upper surface furnished with scattered hairs, under-surface clothed with yellowish felt; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long. Flowers white, nearly 1⁄2 in. across, produced during June in stalked umbels or corymbs 1 to 2 in. wide; flower-stalks and calyx downy. The leaves remain very late on the branches.
Native of N. China and allied to S. cantoniensis, but readily distinguished by its downy shoots, flower-stalks, and yellowish felted leaves, the last named being considerably broader in proportion to their length than those of S. cantoniensis. It is not very hardy, and is killed to ground level in hard winters.
S. chinensis is very near to S. nervosa Franch. & Sav. of Japan, which was described earlier.
† S. pubescens Turcz. – Although introduced to Europe towards the end of the 19th century this species has always been less common in gardens than its ally S. chinensis, which for many years was grown under its name. The plants now at Kew are from seeds collected in South Korea in 1982 (B.E. & C. 185). As seen by the collectors it grew to about 3 ft high, but in China it may be twice that height. The leaves of S. pubescens are grey-tomentose beneath and the follicles are almost glabrous (downy in S. chinensis).