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A small evergreen tree, the branchlets covered when young with a loose, whitish down, ultimately glabrous. Leaves leathery, lanceolate to obovate, 21⁄2 to 4 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, dark shining green and glabrous above, paler, glossy and slightly downy on the midrib beneath, finely toothed. Flowers white, about 1⁄2 in. across, produced in July in flattish, terminal, hairy-stalked corymbs 2 to 4 in. across; flower-stalk and receptacle woolly. Fruits hoary with down when young, becoming pale red and glabrous, 1⁄4 in. long, pear-shaped.
Including its varieties, not treated here, S. nussia is of wide distribution from the central and eastern Himalaya to S. China, the Indonesian region and the Philippines; it was introduced from the Himalaya in 1828. It is not reliably hardy near London unless grown on a wall, but flowers and fruits in the open ground in the milder parts and attained a height of 20 ft at Binstead in the Isle of Wight.