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A deciduous shrub of graceful habit ultimately 9 to 12 ft high; young shoots minutely downy. Leaves mostly oval, slenderly pointed, tapered at the base, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark green and minutely but densely downy above, thickly covered with soft down beneath; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Inflorescence loosely pyramidal, erect, 3 to 6 in. long, 2 to 3 in. wide; main and secondary flower-stalks downy. Flowers fragrant, 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, white to pale rosy purple, the tube very slender, the four lobes 1⁄8 in. long, narrowly oblong; anthers yellow. Calyx downy, cup-shaped, shallowly toothed or nearly truncate. Seed-vessel 5⁄8 in. long, pointed, glossy, smooth or minutely and sparsely warted. Flowers in June. Series Pubescentes. Bot. Mag., t. 9060.
Native of W. China; discovered in Kansu in 1885 by the Russian traveller Potanin. Wilson found it in 1904 and again in 1908 near Kangting (Tatsien-lu) in W. Szechwan, but apparently it did not reach Britain until Farrer sent seeds from S. Kansu in 1914. A beautiful form from this sending, raised at Highdown, near Worthing, by the late Sir Frederick Stern, is portrayed in the Botanical Magazine. The flowers of the Highdown plant are almost pure white, delightfully fragrant, with yellow anthers. This species is related to S. julianae, but that species has smaller leaves, dark violet anthers and a glabrous calyx. Nearly related to these two species is:
S. pinetorum W.W. Sm. – According to Forrest, who collected it in June 1914, in the Lichiang range of Yunnan, this is a shrub 4 to 8 ft high with pale lavender-rose flowers. They have yellow anthers, and the leaves, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, are hairy on the midrib and veins beneath. Forrest introduced it, but it is uncertain if the true species is now in cultivation (1979).