A deciduous, erect-growing shrub up to 6 ft high; young shoots soon quite glabrous. Leaves lanceolate, tapered or rounded at the base, long and slenderly pointed, rather coarsely and unequally toothed, 1 to 3 in. long, 3⁄8 to 5⁄8 in. wide, deep green. Seen under the lens the upper surface shows numerous star-shaped depressions in which are embedded minute, star-shaped hairs. Flowers pure white, 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. across, produced in erect racemes or panicles 11⁄2 to 3 in. long. Petals obovate, rounded at the apex; styles distinctly longer than the stamens; calyx slightly scaly, with small, triangular, greenish-white lobes. Flower-stalks glabrous.
Native of Japan; introduced about 1840. Well known for forcing early into blossom for conservatory decoration, this species is also very handsome out-of-doors where the climate suits it. It is quite hardy, but in low-lying districts is very frequently injured by late frosts. When frosted in bud, D. gracilis has the peculiarity of producing minute but otherwise apparently quite normal flowers. This phenomenon has been observed in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley and, judging from specimens sent in by Fellows of the Society, it is not uncommon.
cv. ‘Aurea’. – Leaves yellow.
cv. ‘Marmorata’. – Leaves spotted with yellow.
Lemoine used D. gracilis as a parent of some of his finest hybrids. Two of the groups in which they have been classified – D. × rosea and D. × lemoinei – are described in their alphabetical position. A third of lesser importance may be mentioned here:
D. × candelabra (Lemoine) Rehd. – These hybrids are the result of crossing D. gracilis with D. sieboldiana. The typical form of the cross – ‘Candelabra’ – was put out by Lemoine in 1909. It resembles D. gracilis in foliage and habit but is hardier and has larger and denser panicles. Other forms of the cross are ‘Erecta’ and ‘Fastuosa’. All were originally distributed as ‘varieties’ of D. gracilis.