A deciduous, semi-woody shrub 6 to 8 ft, perhaps more, high; young stems, leaves, leaf-stalks, and flower-stalks covered with a dense, brownish-yellow, shaggy down. Leaves trifoliolate; leaflets varying in shape from broadly ovate or rhomboidal to narrowly obovate; 1⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. long, often as much wide, usually three-lobed, but sometimes merely coarsely and irregularly toothed. The two side leaflets are much smaller than (usually about half the size of) the terminal one. Common stalk 1 to 2 in. long, that of the terminal leaflet 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long; the side leaflets are stalkless. Flowers white, tinged with pink, 13⁄4 in. diameter, produced singly on stalks 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, which spring from the joints of the previous year’s wood. Sepals four, broadly oblong, with a short, abrupt point; stamens not downy, forming a cluster 1 in. across. Seed-vessels terminated by a style 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, plumed with brownish golden hairs. Bot. Mag., t. 8395.
Native of Yunnan, China; discovered by Delavay in 1884; introduced to Kew in 1910, by Maurice de Vilmorin. It is a very charming and pretty plant, distinct in its short, erect habit, and its covering of shaggy down. It is found on mountain slopes and summits at 7,000 to 9,000 ft, but is rather tender at Kew.
var. sericea Schneid. C. spooneri Rehd. & Wils. – In describing this plant as C. spooneri, Rehder and Wilson recognised its close relationship to C. chrysocoma, to which it is now attached as a variety. It resembles the type in its clothing of yellowish down, but appears to be more hardy and is a more genuine climber in our climate. C. chrysocoma has flowers not so large but often more numerous in each leaf-axil and it also continues after the normal blossoming season in June to flower on the current year’s shoots, which var. sericea never does.