An evergreen shrub about 4 to 9 in. high (occasionally to 2 ft), forming compact tufts of erect, stiff branches; young stems minutely downy, with erect, gland-tipped bristles interspersed. Leaves closely set on the branches (about twenty to the inch), linear, toothed, rounded at the end, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long, 1⁄16 in. or less wide, glabrous and glossy dark green above, midrib white beneath with minute down. Flowers on slender, erect, often reddish, glandular-downy stalks 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, which are produced singly in from three to seven of the terminal leaf-axils in early May. Corolla open bell-shaped, about 1⁄4 in. long, rather more wide, with shallow, rounded lobes; white tinged with pink on the lobes; sepals about 1⁄12 in. long, pointed, ciliate, glabrous on the back, often reddish. Stamens and style enclosed within the corolla. Seed-vessel globose, depressed at the top where it is roughened with short, hardened glandular hairs. Bot. Mag., t. 8405.
This delightful little shrub, one of the daintiest of the heath family, is a native of Japan. It flowered at Kew in 1911, but owing to some misplacement of labels its history was lost, and it was described as a new species by Dr Stapf. It received a First Class Certificate in 1946.
var. oblongo-ovata (Tatewaki) Toyokuni P. tsugifolia var. oblongo-ovata Tatewaki; P. tsugifolia Nakai; P. nipponica var. tsugifolia (Nakai) Ohwi – This variety has a more northern distribution than the typical state of the species, from which it differs chiefly in the much longer flower-stalks (1 to 13⁄8 in. long). The leaves are somewhat longer and wider. This phyllodoce and typical P. nipponica are figured in Takeda’s Alpine Flora of Japan in Colour (1960), Plate 20.
P. × alpina Koidz. P. hybrida Nakai, not Rydb. – The phyllodoce described by Koidzumi as P. alpina is now considered to be a hybrid between P. nipponica and P. aleutica. It resembles the former in its foliage, and in having the calyx-lobes glabrous on the outside, but the corollas are contracted at the mouth and slightly larger. In colour they are said to be pink. Figured in Takeda (loc. cit. supr.), Plate 20.