Trees to 20 m tall. Branchlets densely grey-yellow stellate pubescent, becoming purple and glabrous. Leaves leathery, 7–14(–16) × 3.5–6.5(–8) cm, obovate-elliptic to elliptic, both leaf surfaces sparsely stellate pubescent or glabrescent or hairy only along veins, five to seven secondary veins on each side of the mid-rib, margin denticulate, revolute, apex acute to shortly acuminate; petiole 0.3–0.7 cm long. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, paniculate, many-flowered, 4–8 cm long; pedicels 0.6–1.0(–1.2) cm. Flowers 0.9–1.6 cm long; calyx 5-toothed, corolla tube 0.2–0.3 mm; lobes 0.6–0.9 cm long, oblong to oblong-lanceolate. Filaments expanded, free parts basally densely white villose. Fruit ovoid to globose, 0.9–1.3cm long, smooth or rugose, densely greyish stellate tomentose, apex shortly pointed. (Hwang & Grimes 1996).
Distribution China Anhui, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Hubei, Henan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang.
Habitat Mixed forests; altitude 100–1700 m
USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Another species of Styrax that is not widely cultivated, despite its first introduction to cultivation being in 1900 by E.H. Wilson (Wilson 1106), after being discovered in the late 1880s by Augustine Henry. Wilson collections from Sichuan were, in general, relatively hardy and many have persisted but there is little evidence to suggest that this particular species thrived or even survived for any length of time.
There is a tentatively identified 12 m specimen at Trewithen in Cornwall, likely to be a Wilson introduction to be so large, and both the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and RHS Wisley cultivate S. dasyanthus. Another plant grown under this name had reached nearly 3 m height by 2012, having been planted in 1996 at the JC Raulston Arboretum (JC Raulston Arboretum 2018). Given its natural scarcity and the altitudinal range of the species (100 to 1700 m) it is likely that it is at best marginally hardy, with provenance and especially altitudinal provenance being most important. This may well be why it has not become more widespread in cultivation, although Lobdell (2013) conjectures that if plants of appropriate provenance and hardiness can be obtained, this could be a useful species in cooler climates on account of its later flowering.
The Flora of China does not list this species as occuring in Hubei, despite Henry’s type collection originating from that province.