A shrub up to 8 ft high; young shoots glabrous, the bark peeling off the year-old branches. Leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate, slender-pointed, toothed, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide; three-nerved, glabrous or nearly so; stalk and veins beneath purplish. Flowers yellowish, about 1 in. across, slightly fragrant, produced in racemes of five to nine (sometimes eleven). Petals oval, rounded at the top; calyx glabrous outside, downy towards the points of the lobes inside; styles separated at the top only; flower-stalk glabrous.
Native of N. China and Korea. It flowers in late May and June and is distinct in its yellowish flowers, glabrous leaves with purplish stalks, and glabrous flower-stalks; but it is not one of the best, although free-flowering.
P. brachybotrys Koehne P. pekinensis var. brachybotrys (Koehne) Koehne – This species is near to P. pekinensis and sometimes made a variety of it. It, too, has yellowish flowers, but smaller, and the young shoots and leaf-undersides are furnished with a few stiff hairs. It was introduced to the Vilmorin collection in 1892 by one of the French missionaries in China and the seeds are believed to have been collected in Kiangsi. It forms a rounded, dense-habited bush.
There is a philadelphus in cultivation under the name P. pekinensis var. brachybotrys which is probably a hybrid and does not in the least resemble P. brachybotrys. It most probably acquired the name through mislabelling of a stock plant many years ago – it has been in cultivation under its erroneous name since the 1930s at least.