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A compact evergreen shrub, 1 to 3 ft high; young shoots angled, bristly. Leaves much crowded on the shoots (ten or twelve to the inch) obovate, rounded or notched at the end, tapered to the base, not toothed, margins decurved, 3⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long, half as much wide, glabrous, rather leathery; stalk very short. Racemes 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, usually terminating the shoot, main flower-stalk bristly. Corolla roundish urn-shaped, 1⁄6 in. long, described by Forrest as creamy yellow, tinged with rose outside, also as white flushed with rose, and bright rose; calyx lobes triangular, ciliate. Fruits globose, 1⁄6 in. wide, described by Forrest as ‘dark crimson’ and ‘purplish red.’
Native of S.W. China and upper Burma; discovered by Père Delavay in Yunnan and introduced by Forrest. In general appearance it much resembles V. moupinense and, like that species, grows in the wild on cliffs, rocks, and as an epiphyte on trees. It differs from it in the leaves having a notch at one end and in the bristly flower-stalks. But both species are closely allied to V. nummularia.
V. delavayi makes a neat little evergreen with small, box-like foliage, and is hardy in a sheltered position, but is not suitable for gardens subject to late spring-frost. The flowers on cultivated plants are white or cream-coloured, sometimes flushed with pink, and the young growths are tinted with red. But many years may pass before it flowers freely. The fruits on cultivated plants are bluish purple. V. delavayi received an Award of Merit in 1950.