A deciduous shrub of dense, bushy habit, with ascending main branches, 6 to 10 ft high; bark smooth, mahogany-brown; branchlets more or less hairy. Leaves lanceolate or narrowly ovate, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 1 in. wide, coarsely and doubly toothed, the base rounded or tapering, the apex long-pointed, both surfaces, especially the lower one, furnished with persistent, soft, greyish hairs; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long, hairy, issuing from between two leaf-like, deeply toothed, hairy stipules 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers rosy white, scarcely 1⁄2 in. wide, produced (each on a sparsely hairy stalk 1⁄3 in. long) in clusters of three to five; calyx tubular, with five triangular lobes half as long as the tube; petals soon falling. Fruits round to oblong, 1⁄2 in. in diameter, glabrous, red, with a pleasant cherry-like taste.
Native of China; obtained in 1898 from the province of Szechwan by Maurice de Vilmorin, and flowered at Les Barres in 1901. Introduced in 1905 to Kew, where it flowers about mid-April. It is a very distinct cherry because of the thick coat of soft hairs which covers the leaves and other younger parts of the plant, but is reduced in value as an ornamental plant by the fleeting nature of the petals. Bois, the author of the name, assumes a relationship between it and P. maximowiczii. The latter species, however, is very distinct in its stalked racemes several inches long furnished with leaf-like bracts. P. canescens is abundant in Wilson’s later collectings.
P. × schmittii Rehd. – A hybrid between P. canescens and P. avium, raised from a seedling of the former species at the Arnold Arboretum, in 1923. It makes a vigorous tree with an attractive mahogany-coloured bark and a narrow, vase-shaped crown. The bark and narrow habit come from P. canescens, the taller growth from P. avium, which P. × schmittii also resembles in the shape of its leaves and campanulate calyx-tube. The flowers are larger than in P. canescens, pale pink.