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Shrub or tree to 10 m. Branchlets with grey-brown stellate hairs when young, becoming glabrescent with age. Leaves papery to thickly so; two basal leaves on each branchlet, more or less opposite, other leaves alternate, 6–8(–12) × 3–4(–6) cm, oblong to narrowly elliptic, upper surface with sparse stellate hairs, lower surface glabrous to sparsely or more extensively stellate-hairy, especially hairy on the veins and in the vein axils, five to seven secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins glandular-serrate, apex acuminate to caudate, base rounded to variably cuneate; petiole < 1 cm long. Inflorescences pseudoterminal, when sometimes racemose with two to three (to six) flowers, or axillary, when one- to three-flowered; pedicels 0.2–1.3 cm long. Flowers to 2.5 cm long; calyx lobes irregularly two- to three-toothed, densely covered with grey and orange to brown stellate hairs, corolla to 1.9 cm, white or pink, tube 0.3–0.4 cm, lobes four (to five), 1.1–1.8 cm, obovate to obovate-elliptic; stamens 8–10. Fruit ovoid, to 2 cm diameter, with yellow-grey stellate hairs. Flowering April to July, fruiting October to November (China). (Hwang & Grimes 1996, Huang et al. 2003).
Distribution Bhutan Myanmar China Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan India Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh Nepal
Habitat Open woodlands, forest edges on mountain slopes, between 700 and 3350 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Taxonomic note The wide range and variability of S. hookeri has led to a number of synonymous taxa being described (Huang et al. 2003). The invalid name S. yunnanensis, occasionally applied in horticulture, appears to belong here.
As Styrax shweliensis, S. hookeri was introduced from Yunnan in 1919 by George Forrest (F 18249) (Bean 1981b). It has not become widely grown under any name, but there are several old specimens in Cornish gardens. The largest, though with a broken top, growing at Caerhays, was measured at 8 m (31 cm dbh) by Owen Johnson in 2006. More recent introductions include KR 1714 from Bhutan, also established in Cornwall, and there are stocks labelled S. yunnanensis in the Netherlands (Plantentuin Esveld 2006–2008). As a large-flowered species related to S. japonicus it deserves attention, but may be hardy only in milder areas.