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Tree 4–20 m. Branchlets covered with reddish or greyish brown stellate tomentum. Leaves leathery, 5–15(–18) × 2–5(–8) cm, elliptic or oblong to lanceolate, upper surface glabrous or with tomentum along the midrib, lower surface densely covered in brown stellate tomentum, 5–12 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins usually entire, apex acuminate and often slightly curved; petiole 1–1.5(–2) cm long, four-angled. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemose or paniculate, 6–12 cm long with numerous flowers; pedicels 0.1–0.3 cm long. Flowers 1–1.5 cm long; calyx densely covered with yellow-grey tomentum, corolla tube 0.3 cm, lobes four to five, to 1.0 cm, oblong to lanceolate, stamens 8–10, shorter than corolla. Fruit ovoid to globose, 1–1.8 cm diameter, densely brown-tomentose, dehiscing by way of three valves. Flowering March to May, fruiting August to November (China). (Hwang & Grimes 1996).
Distribution Myanmar China Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang Vietnam Taiwan (China)
Habitat Between 300 and 3000 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 8-9
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Taxonomic note In addition to typical S. suberifolius there is var. hayataianus (Perkins) Mori, with greyish white tomentum on the underside of the leaf (see discussion under S. formosanus).
Yet another extremely scarce species in cultivation is Styrax suberifolius, of which a few examples grow at Tregrehan and in the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. When seen in 2005 the trees at Tregrehan were about seven years old and were up to 8 m tall, having developed very straight unbranched trunks with spreading branches. The bark, like that of many Styrax, is finely striated with darker lines over a rich brown ground – a lovely detail worthy of close inspection. The Tregrehan trees, of Yunnan origin, have bloomed, but the flowers have only a slight scent (T. Hudson pers. comm. 2005).