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A deciduous shrub 5 ft or more high, of spreading habit, with slender, downy young shoots. Leaves roundish ovate, pointed or rounded at the apex; 1⁄2 to 2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 11⁄4 in. wide, dark green above, greyish green beneath, slightly downy on both surfaces, ciliate; stalk 1⁄6 to 1⁄3 in. long. Panicles 2 to 4 in. long and 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide, produced in pairs at the end of the shoot and often supplemented by lateral ones. Flowers very fragrant, pinkish-lilac, the corolla slender-tubed, 3⁄8 in. long, with the spreading lobes oblong, round-ended, 1⁄8 in. long; calyx downy, helmet-shaped, 1⁄16 in. long, with very short triangular lobes. Seed-vessel spindle-shaped, 1⁄2 in. long, warted. Series Pubescentes.
A native of N. and W. China; discovered by the Italian missionary Giraldi in 1893; introduced to the Coombe Wood nursery of Messrs Veitch by Purdom in 1910. It is variable in the downiness of the young shoots, leaves, etc., and separate species have been made of its more glabrous forms, which are, however, linked to the typical state by intermediates. It is a very distinct lilac on account of its small size and the often nearly orbicular shape of its leaves. It flowers in June but a second crop of flowers is often produced in autumn on the current year’s leafy shoots. A particularly floriferous form has been named S. microphylla ‘Superba’.