An evergreen climber up to 30 ft high; young shoots grooved, greyish. Leaves trifoliolate or quinquefoliolate; the latter found only on long barren shoots of the current season. Leaflets of thin texture, glabrous, ovate-lanceolate, pointed, either entire or with a few large teeth, or even three-lobed; 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide; the terminal one the largest. Flowers produced in winter, eight or ten together at the joints of the stem, each on its own stalk. Flower-stalk 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, furnished with a cup-shaped, downy bract 1⁄4 in. long, and very downy between the bract and the sepals. Sepals four, ovate, creamy yellow, slightly spreading, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄6 in. wide, covered with silky down. Stamens very numerous, up to 1 in. long, purple. Seed-vessel with silky-white tails 1 in. or more long. Bot. Mag., t. 9037.
Native of N. India and S.W. China. Forrest found it in the latter area in 1912 and it was named after him by Sir W. W. Smith. In 1925 (see Botanical Magazine, loc. cit.) Dr Stapf identified it with the Himalayan C. napaulensis. The chief beauty of the flower is in the purple stamens and anthers which are in admirable contrast with the creamy sepals. Botanically the species is related to C. cirrhosa in having a cup-shaped involucre or bract on the flower-stalk. It will no doubt be hardy in our warmer counties, but is as yet very rare. The figure in the Botanical Magazine was made from a plant growing at Caerhays Castle, Cornwall, where Forrest’s form was first raised. It would no doubt be hardy in the warmer counties but elsewhere is best regarded as a cool greenhouse climber. As such it was given an Award of Merit when shown by Kew in November 1957. It bears its flowers through the winter under glass.