An open, loose-habited, evergreen shrub up to 10 (perhaps more) ft high; branchlets not downy, but furnished with stalked glands, and resinous when young. Leaves obovate or oval, from 3⁄4 in. to 21⁄2 in. long, nearly to quite half as wide; tapered at the base, rounded or abruptly pointed at the apex, finely toothed, not downy on either surface, but glossy green above and more or less clammy with a resinous secretion when young; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Panicle 3 or 4 in. long, 11⁄2 in. diameter, cylindrical, thinly hairy and glandular; each branch of the panicle one- to five-, more often three-flowered and springing from the axil of a leaf-like bract. Flowers white, 1⁄3 in. wide at the top, the claws of the petals forming a tube 1⁄2 in. long. Calyx green, bell-shaped, with five linear lobes.
Native of Chile; introduced early in the nineteenth century. This plant has an odour distinctly suggestive of the pigsty, but by no means so offensive as that comparison would suggest. E. illinita is one of the hardiest of the genus. It has for many years been grown in the open at Kew, and survives even severe winters although sometimes badly cut.
var. pubicalycina Briq. – Young stems and the veins on underside of leaf sparsely to densely clad with short hairs. Calyx-tube downy and minutely glandular. Such plants, which are known to have been in cultivation, are perhaps back-crosses of typical E. illinita with the natural hybrid E. illinita × revoluta (Sleumer, op. cit., p. 81).
A notably viscid escallonia was in cultivation as long ago as 1825 as E. viscosa Forbes (Hort. Woburn, p. 231), a name which was not properly validated until 1900, when an illustration and description were provided by de Wildeman (Ic. Select. Hort. Thenensis, p. 65 and t. 16). In his monograph, Dr Sleumer has sunk this species in E. illinita, and there is no doubt that this judgement is botanically correct. But, as noted in previous editions, the plant grown as E. viscosa at Kew differed from the common run of E. illinita in the following respects: ‘It is laxer in habit; the panicles are longer, one-sided (instead of cylindrical); and the leaves and young shoots are much more sticky and resinous, especially in autumn, and much more scented. The most impressive peculiarity of this shrub, indeed, is its odour, even more suggestive of the pigsty than that of illinita, but intermingled with a resinous smell… So strongly are the shoots imbued with it that herbarium specimens, years after drying, still retain it. On living plants it is strongest on damp, still days.’
E. illinita × E. rubra. – Hybrids of this parentage are fairly frequent in Chile where the two species are in contact and were introduced to cultivation in the 1830s. They have been grown under various erroneous names such as “E. resinosa” (correctly the name of an escallonia native to central S. America), “E. grahamiana” (a synonym of E. illinita), or “E. glandulosa” (a synonym of E. illinita and of E. rubra). To this hybrid group also belongs E. rubra var. albiflora Hook. & Arn. (though one specimen cited by these authors in their original description is E. leucantha). An escallonia cultivated in California and named E. × franciscana by Miss Eastwood is E. illinita × E. rubra var. macrantha. These hybrids have the resin-glands and odour of E. illinita but the stalked glands on the receptacle show the influence of E. rubra (the above is based on Sleumer, op. cit., pp. 139-140).