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Shrub to 3 m, branches hairy, with 2 hairy ridges when young. Leaves elliptic, obovate or oblanceolate, 4–12 x 2–5 cm, apex acuminate or acute, base rounded or attenuate, margin shallowly serrate, hairy on both sides of leaves, densest on veins, lateral veins 3–6 pairs, petiole to 0.5 cm, glabrous. Cymes, axillary or terminal on previous year’s growth, 1–3 flowered. Peduncle 1–4 mm, hairy, bracts and bracteoles linear 1–10 mm, both caducous. Caylx tube 5-lobed, radially symmetric, linear or awl-shaped, free almost entire length, 0.5–1.5 x c. 0.1 cm, hairy. Corolla funnel-shaped, 2.5–4 x 1.5–2.5 cm, gradually widening from the base, red to dark crimson red, red to red lavender inside, hairy outside. Corolla tube 2–2.5 cm, hairy inside, corolla 5-lobed, radially symmetric, ovate or oblong-ovate, 0.5–0.9 cm long (c. 25–30% of length of corolla tube). Stamen almost as long as corolla, filaments 0.7–1.2 cm, glabrous; anthers, free, linear 0.4–0.6, yellow. Style longer than corolla, 3–4 cm, glabrous, stigma disk–like, 2–3 mm diameter. Fruits cylindrical, slightly curved, 1.7–2.5 cm dehiscing from apex, glabrous. Seeds ovoid, 1.5 mm long, narrow wings on three sides. Flowers: May to June. Fruits: September to December.
Based on Iwatsuki, K. (ed) (1993).
Distribution Japan Central and west Honshu and Shikoku
Habitat Open places 100-1700 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Taxonomic note The Japanese flora distinguishes one colour form and one variety, based on locality and corolla characterisitics. forma leucantha Honda with white flowers that sporadically appears through its range. var. versicolor (Makino) Hara has a corolla that is pale green yellow, becoming rose pink outside and pale pink inside. Corolla tube 2–3 cm long, with lobes 0.7–1 cm (c. 30–40% of length of corolla tube). Endemic to Kanto Mountains of cental Honshu.
Introduced to Europe about 1860. The typical form of Weigela floribunda has particularly dark red flowers. W. hortensis has similar colouration and both species have been used to create the dark red flowers of selections such as ‘Courtavif’, ‘Eva Rathke’ and ‘Saturn’ (Bean 1981b).