An evergreen climber, said to cover trees in its native country, but only a few feet high in the average climate of Britain; young stems silky-hairy. Leaves glossy beneath, broadly ovate with a heart-shaped base, or three-lobed, coarsely toothed, glabrous; 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide; stalk 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long. Flower solitary or in pairs, on a stalk 1 to 2 in. long; sepals oval, dull white or cream-coloured, downy outside; the whole flower 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. across, produced in winter. Seed-vessels terminated by plumose styles 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, forming large, beautifully silky tassels. Blooms January to March. Bot. Mag., t. 1070.
Native of the Mediterranean region; first discovered in Andalucia by the botanist Clusius in the latter half of the sixteenth century, and soon afterwards introduced to Britain. It appears to be hardier than var. balearica, but at Kew does not flower so well, nor has it the beautifully cut, bronzy foliage that is so attractive in its ally. The flowers are sometimes stained inside with narrow, irregular, reddish-purple spots (f. purpurascens Willk.), or may be wholly red.
var. balearica (Rich.) Willk. & Lange C. balearica Rich.; C. calycina Ait. – This variety differs from the type mainly in its finely divided, somewhat fernlike leaves, the larger ones deeply and doubly toothed, the smaller ones simply three- or five-lobed; they are 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, the ultimate subdivisions linear and pointed. In summer the foliage is dark green, in winter it becomes bronzy purple. The flowers are produced from September to March. It reaches a height of 10 to 15 ft in this country.
Native of Majorca, Minorca, Corsica, etc.; introduced to Kew by way of Paris, in 1783. It is not so hardy as the type, but has lived out-of-doors at Kew merely trained up tree branches, flowering throughout the winter whenever the weather was mild. On account of its blossoming in midwinter, and the beauty of its finely cut foliage at that season, it is well worth a sunny, sheltered spot, although the flowers are not showy. It thrives well on a wall in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley.