A deciduous tree 50 ft and upwards high in a wild state, whose swollen leaf-bases enclose the buds as in C. lutea; young shoots rusty-downy at the base. Leaves composed of usually eleven or thirteen, sometimes seventeen leaflets, which are alternate, 3 to 5 in. long, 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide; narrow oblong, pointed, tapered or rounded at the base; glabrous above, rusty-downy on the midrib, and glaucous beneath; stalks downy. Flowers fragrant, blush white, 1⁄2 in. long, produced in large, pyramidal, terminal, erect panicles, sometimes 12 in. long and 9 in. wide. Calyx covered with rusty-coloured down. Pod flattened, smooth, 2 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 in. wide. Blooms in July. Bot. Mag., t. 9043.
Native of China; discovered in Szechwan by Pratt in 1890 and later found in Yunnan by Henry and Forrest and in Hupeh by Wilson, who introduced it in 1901. It is not so commonly planted as it deserves to be, for it makes an elegant small tree and is one of the few that blossom in high summer. Three trees at Kew are about 20 ft high and flower well in most years in the latter part of July. It also flowers regularly in the West Hill nursery, Winchester, but Mr Hillier tells us this tree is now dying, possibly on account of the shallow chalky soil (though the species has no objection to chalk as such). It has attained its largest dimensions in Cornwall, where there is a specimen 40 ft high at Lanarth and another of a good size at Trewithen. It is about the last deciduous tree to break into growth in early summer. This tree furnishes a remarkable instance of geographical distribution. As is the case with Chionanthus, Liriodendron, Gymnocladus, and Sassafras, a genus represented by a solitary species in the New World and long known in gardens, was later reinforced by species from the Old World.