An erect deciduous shrub 6 to 9 ft high; young shoots at first downy, soon becoming nearly or quite glabrous. Leaves narrowly oval or lanceolate, with a long slender point and tapered at the base, toothed; 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 21⁄4 in. wide; dull dark green above, paler beneath, downy on both surfaces; stalk 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers numerously produced during July on the leafy shoots in close, rounded, axillary cymes 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, the stalks thickly furnished with star-like hairs. Each flower is about 3⁄16 in. wide and 1⁄6 in. long, the corolla lilac-coloured, with four rounded lobes; calyx bell-shaped with four short lobes, sprinkled with star-like hairs; anthers yellow. Fruit globose, 1⁄8 to 1⁄6 in. wide, pale bluish lilac, glossy.
Native of China in the provinces of Szechwan, Hupeh, Shensi; discovered by Henry in 1887. It was introduced to Germany at the end of the nineteenth century by the missionary Giraldi and distributed by Hesse’s nurseries as C. giraldiana. Wilson introduced it to this country in 1907 from Szechwan and plants from his seed were also grown as C. giraldiana. However, some years elapsed before this name was validly published by Schneider, and in the meantime the same species had been described under the name C. bodinieri. It is variable in the degree of hairiness of leaf and inflorescence, and since the type chosen by Schneider differs markedly from that of C. bodinieri in this respect, it becomes:
var. giraldii (Rehd.) Rehd. C. giraldiana Schneid.; C. giraldii Rehd. – Leaves glabrous above, glandular and thinly downy beneath; inflorescence also less downy than in the type. But some plants cultivated in this country under the name C. giraldiana may in fact be nearer to typical C. bodinieri than they are to the variety. Bot. Mag., t. 8682.
So far as a climate like that of Kew is concerned C. bodinieri is the best callicarpa for cultivation in the open. To get it at its best it requires generous treatment at the root and a sunny position. It frequently gives beautiful displays of fruit in October and November, and is perfectly hardy. Although the colour of the fruit is given above as pale bluish lilac, seedling plants at Kew bear berries that range in colour from lavender to rich purple. C. japonica is well distinguished from this species by its narrower glabrous leaves and glabrous flower-panicles. Both bear fruit more freely and surely when several seedling plants (or plants of different clones) are grown together. There is a white-fruited form in cultivation.