An evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub up to 15 ft high, of spreading habit; young shoots downy. Leaves oval-oblong to ovate-lanceolate, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 3⁄4 in. wide, rugose and glabrous above, downy and glaucous beneath; veins in five to twelve pairs, prominent. Flowers small, borne in very woolly corymbs up to 2 in. across. Fruit subglobose, 1⁄5 in. wide, bright red, carrying two or three nutlets.
var. floccosus Rehd. & Wils. C. floccosus (Rehd. & Wils.) Flinck & Hylmö – Branchlets very slender, downy at first, but becoming glabrous and of a dark reddish brown by the end of the season. Leaves leathery, lanceolate or narrowly ovate, wedge-shaped at the base, tapering to a sharp point; 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. wide; the upper surface glossy green, wrinkled, not downy; the lower one covered at first with silky white floss, some of which falls away by the end of the year, showing the grey-white surface beneath; veins in seven to fourteen pairs; leaf-stalk about 1⁄8 in. long. Corymbs about 1 in. wide, carrying nine to fifteen flowers at the end of short, three- or five-leaved twigs; stalks and calyx woolly, the teeth of the latter triangular. Fruit roundish, about 1⁄4 in. diameter, bright red, containing usually three nutlets. Bot. Mag., t. 8999.
Introduced by Wilson (No. 1133a) from W. China in 1908, and again in 1910. A very graceful, distinct, and attractive evergreen, highly recommended by its collector for the beauty of its fruit.
var. rugosus (Pritz.) Rehd. & Wils. C. rugosus Pritz. – In this variety the leaves are larger, up to 3 in. long and 11⁄8 in. wide, the veins numbering six to ’ twelve pairs. The fruit is coral red, larger than in var. floccosus, and contains usually three nutlets. The plant is more vigorous, coarser looking, and with bigger leaves than var. floccosus, but in many respects similar.
Introduced by Wilson (No. 335) in 1907 from W. Hupeh, where he found it 9 ft high. Bot. Mag., t. 8694.
In cultivation C. salicifolius has given rise to seedlings of procumbent or of low and spreading habit, several of which are in commerce, all raised on the continent: ‘Repens’ (syn. ‘Avondrood’), ‘Parkteppich’ (both good for groundcover), ‘Gnom’ and others. ‘Herbstfeuer’ (syn. ‘Autumn Fire’) was at one time considered to be a hybrid of the C. × watereri group but is now placed under C. salicifolius (Dr B. K. Boom in Dendroflora, Vol. 3, p. 11 (1966)). It is also of low, spreading but rather open habit and appears to breed more or less true from seed.