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Shrub, 1.5–3 m, occasionally taller. Leaves trifoliolate; leaflets 5–14 cm, elliptic to ovate-elliptic, margins finely serrate, pubescent (especially when young) to glabrous below. Inflorescence a pendulous panicle, 5–10 cm, emerging with or just after the leaves. Flowers 12 mm, calyx and petals erect, white. Capsule with three locules, 5–8 cm.
Distribution Western Himalaya, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India(?) and Nepal.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9a
RHS Hardiness Rating H3
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
This taxon remains poorly understood and if present in cultivation is extremely rare, although it was originally introduced in 1890 (Krüssmann 1986). Its affinities are unclear: Krüssmann thought it was closest to the American S. trifolia, but others consider it (more probably) to be allied to S. holocarpa (Rehder & Wilson in Sargent (1916), Bean (1981b)). Rehder & Wilson (1916) say that it differs from S. holocarpa in having larger leaves, longer petioles and a terminal rather than axillary inflorescence, plus larger yellow-brown seeds. Krüssmann (1986) says that it is the only non-hardy species, which may be the reason it is so rare. The five specimens with altitudinal data contained in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh were all collected from 2,100–2,700 m altitude in Nepal, rather too low for hardiness to be expected in a Himalayan plant.
A plant grown for some years at RHS Garden Wisley under the name S. emodi, obtained from Hillier Nurseries, has recently been identified as S. × coulombieri ‘Grandiflora’ (M. Pottage pers. comms. 2018, 2019).