An evergreen shrub or small tree up to 20 ft high; young shoots conspicuously furnished with a dense coat of brown curly bristles 1⁄8 in. long. Leaves 3 to 6 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, narrowly oblong or inclined to obovate, abruptly narrowed at the apex to a short fine point, rounded at the base, dark green and soon glabrous above, bristly on the margins at first, and on the midrib beneath; stalk 1⁄3 to 1 in. long, with the same mossy character as the young shoot. Flowers opening in April, borne in compact trusses of up to ten on shaggy stalks about 5⁄8 in. long. Calyx minute, glabrous or sparsely hairy. Corolla white or pale rose, with a dark blotch at the base, 11⁄2 in. wide, scarcely so deep, bell-shaped, five-lobed. Stamens ten, shorter than the corolla, downy at the base. Ovary densely hairy; style glabrous. (s. Barbatum ss. Maculiferum)
Native of W. Szechwan, where according to Wilson it is one of the commonest and most widely dispersed species and occurs up to an altitude of 11,ooo ft. It was discovered by the Abbé Soulié and introduced by Wilson in 1903 for Messrs Veitch. It is a perfectly hardy species, but rather too early-flowering for most gardens and anyway only worth planting in selected colour-forms as the flowers often have a magenta tint. The Award of Merit was given in 1963 to the clone ‘Sesame’, with rosy-pink flowers, when exhibited by Lord Aberconway and the National Trust, Bodnant, on April 18.