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Cladrastis wilsonii Takeda

Modern name

Cladrastis wilsonii Takeda

A deciduous tree 15 to 5 o ft high in nature, its trunk sometimes 4 ft in girth; young shoots at first downy. Leaves pinnate, 9 to 13 in. long, composed of seven to eleven leaflets; main-stalk downy. Leaflets ovate to narrowly oval, pointed at the apex, wedge-shaped at the base, entire; 112 to 3 in. long, 12 to 114 in. wide; dark green above, rather glaucous beneath, furnished when young with pale down, glabrous at maturity; stalk 110 in. long, downy. The flowers (not yet seen on cultivated plants) are fragrant, white, about 1 in. long, of pea-flower character, and numerously borne on lax, terminal, broadly pyramidal panicles 5 to 8 in. long, the flower-stalks furnished with brownish down. Calyx downy, 12 in. wide.

Native of W. Hupeh, China, where it was discovered by Wilson and introduced in 1907 to the Arnold Arboretum, whence a plant was obtained for Kew in 1910. There may be other plants in cultivation under Wilson’s number 1102. It has been propagated at Kew by grafting on stocks of the American C. lutea but has scarcely spread into gardens. As in other species, the base of the leaf­stalk fits over the bud and completely hides it. The description given above of leaf and shoot is made from the tree at Kew, but on wild specimens collected in China the leaflets are fewer (seven to nine) and larger. It is nearly related to C. sinensis, which has a glabrous ovary and pod, larger panicles, and smaller flowers.

Apart from the yellow autumn colouring, this species has proved of no value in our climate and remains rare. The specimen in the R.H.S. Garden, Wisley, about 20 ft high, has yet to bear a flower.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This species is not now in the Kew collection. It is likely that some plants grown as C. wilsonii were in fact raised from seed of C. sinensis, since Wilson’s seed-number 1102 covered both species.



Other species in the genus