A small evergreen tree: young growths angled at first, soon becoming terete, light green, remaining green and smooth for several years, lenticels very sparse; buds large, the outer scales oblate, indented, the inner ones enlarging into bracts, broadly spathulate to oblanceolate. Leaves leathery, glossy, narrow-oblanceolate, narrowly oblong-oblanceolate or narrowly oblong-elliptic, gradually or abruptly acuminate at the apex, tapered to an acute base, 5 to 91⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, light green above, paler, somewhat glaucous green beneath, glabrous on both sides when mature, but finely downy when quite young; petiole 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, channelled above. Flowers produced in narrow panicles, arising in the axils of deciduous bracts at the base of the young shoots; peduncles and pedicels finely silky, the former up to 3 in. or so long. Flowers described as white but greenish yellow in the cultivated plant; perianth segments about 3⁄16 in. long. Ovary subglobose, with a very short style. Fruits subglobose, with the perianth persisting at the base, about 1⁄4 in. wide.
Native of central and S.W. China, also of S.E. Tibet; described from specimens collected by Wilson in W. Hupeh. It is represented in cultivation by a fine tree at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, the provenance of which is unknown. It may be from seeds sent home by Wilson, but the species was also collected by Forrest in Yunnan on numerous occasions. The description of the foliage given above is drawn from the Wakehurst plant, in which the leaves are predominantly very slender, with a ratio of length to breadth of about 6: 1 or slightly more, rarely 5:1. This tree is remarkably vigorous and occasionally flowers and produces ripe fruits and even self-sown seedlings. It measures 38 × 3 ft + 2 ft at 3 ft (1969).