A sparsely branched evergreen or deciduous shrub up to 12 ft high. Leaves borne near the tips of the branchlets, on very short stalks, elliptic-lanceolate to oblanceolate, 2 to 4 in. long, pointed or bluntly acuminate at the apex, tapered at the base, thinly leathery. Flowers fragrant, borne from midwinter to spring in terminal and axillary clusters; perianth-tube slender, downy on the outside, about 1⁄2 in. long, purplish pink. Fruit ovoid, black. Bot. Mag., n.s., t.681.
Native of the Himalaya; apparently first introduced in the thirties. It flowered with the late Fred Stoker in 1938 and was given an Award of Merit when shown by Mrs Stoker on 3rd Dec. 1946. It is also in cultivation from seeds sent by Dr Herklots from Nepal in 1962. Plants from this introduction may not prove hardy. In the same year, however, Major Spring Smyth collected and sent to England (under Field Number T.S.S. 132 A-C) three seedlings that he found growing at 10,000 ft on the Milke Banjyang ridge, Nepal, where severe frosts and snowstorms occur during winter. Of these plants, which are deciduous, one has flourished in the introducer’s garden in Hampshire.
The colouring of the flowers in D. bholua is variable. They are said to be normally purplish pink on the outside, with a paler limb, but in some forms the colouring is diluted to almost white. The bark of D. bholua is used for making paper in the Himalaya. There are two related species whose bark is put to the same use, and might, with D. bholua, be known collectively as the ‘paper-daphnes’. These are:
D. papyracea Wall, ex Steud., emend. W. W. Sm. & Cave D. cannabina Wall., in part – This differs from D. bholua in having the leaves bluntly acute (not acuminate), flowers white, not fragrant, and red fruits. Also the floral bud-scales are persistent, whereas in D. bholua they fall as the flower-buds open. It has a more western distribution, from around the Indus eastward to Nepal, whereas D. bholua ranges from Nepal eastward to Assam. Where the two species meet in Nepal is not certain.
D. sureil W. W. Sm. & Cave – This species occurs in the same area as D. bholua but at lower altitudes (up to about 6,000 ft). The flowers are white, fragrant, the bud-scales deciduous, and the fruits orange-red. The leaves are more slenderly pointed than in either of the two other species in this group. Certainly tender. Bot. Mag., t. 9297.