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Hypericum bellum Li

Modern name

Hypericum bellum H.L.Li

A semi-cvergreen densely branched dwarf shrub, about 2 ft high in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley; branchlets reddish, slightly flattened below the flowers but not lined. Leaves short-stalked, broadly ovate to almost orbicular, 12 to 138 in. long, 38 to 118 in. wide, obtuse at the apex, rounded to slightly cordatc at the base, medium green above, paler beneath. Flowers golden yellow, cup-shaped, about 112 in. wide, borne singly or in two- or three-flowered cymes. Sepals ovate or elliptic, obtuse and sometimes apiculate at the apex. Stamens about one-third as long as the petals, in five bundles; styles free, slightly shorter than the ovary.

A native of the Assam Himalaya, S.E. Tibet, N. Upper Burma, and bordering parts of S.W. China. It was introduced early this century by Père Monbeig, who sent seeds to M. Vilmorin’s collection at Les Barres. Kew received plants from there in 1911 and 1914, but those now cultivated in British gardens were probably all raised from seeds sent by Ludlow, Sherriff and Elliot (LSE 13235 and 15737), collected in S.E. Tibet in 1946-7. The species was first described in 1944 but Dr Stapf of Kew had recognised its distinctness earlier and had proposed for it the unpublished name H. monbeigii.

H. bellum is a charming species, allied to H. forrestii but well distinguished by its dwarfer habit, rounded leaves, and smaller flowers. As in that species, the older leaves turn colour in later summer and the ripening capsules are bronzy red. It would make a pretty ground-cover, but being in nature an inhabitant of open scrub it would probably need a fairly sunny position. It is as yet scarcely available in commerce.

Hypericum bellum

Hypericum bellum

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

† subsp. latisepalum N. Robson – Leaves relatively narrower than in the typical state, narrow-oblong, lanceolate-oblong to ovate-oblong, sepals longer and broader, often leafy, styles and stamens longer.

Native of west Yunnan and north Burma; introduced by the Sino-British Expedition to the Cangshan (Tali range) in 1981; specimens were collected earlier in the same area by Forrest’s collectors after his death, and by Kingdon Ward (in Burma).



Other species in the genus