A small deciduous tree said to attain 30 ft in the wild; branchlets reddish brown and silky hairy when young; winter-buds small, fairly densely coated with silky hairs. Leaves (of cultivated plants) narrowly to broadly obovate or elliptic obovate, 4 to 61⁄2 in. long, 13⁄4 to 33⁄4 in. wide, obtuse or shortly and bluntly acuminate at the apex, cuneate at the base, dark green, glabrous and conspicuously net-veined above, the undersurface pale grey-green, with a few short appressed silky hairs on the midrib and main veins; leaf-stalks 5⁄8 to 11⁄4 in. long. Flowers with six petaloid tepals in two whorls and an outer whorl of small, fugitive, sepal-like segments, borne in April on the naked branches. The petaloid segments are white slightly flushed with pink along the midrib, spathulate-oblong, the inner three about 4 in. long, 11⁄2 in. wide, the outer three slightly shorter and narrower; peduncle silky-hairy and remaining so in the fruiting stage. Stamens with pale pink filaments. Fruits described by Wilson as cylindrical, 2 to 3 in. long, 3⁄4 to 1 in. wide.
M. cylindrica was discovered by R. C. Ching on the Wang Shan, Anwhei, China, in 1925, growing in shady ravines at 3,500 to 4,500 ft, and was described from fruiting specimens collected by him. The above description is based mainly (and entirely so far as the flowers are concerned) on material from a plant growing in Mr H. G. Hillier’s garden at Jermyns House, Romsey.
According to information kindly provided by Mr Brian Mulligan, the stock cultivated on the west coast of the United States and most probably in this country also, derives from seeds obtained from the Lushan Botanic Garden, China, by the late Mrs Henry of Gladwyne, Penn., USA, and was further distributed by the University of Washington Arboretum, Seattle.
M. cylindrica is quite hardy in the south of England and flowers freely when only 3 to 4 ft high. It resembles M. denudata in the poise, size and shape of its flowers, but in that species the flowers have nine petal-like segments and no sepaloid whorl. In M. cylindrica there are only six petal-like segments, with an outer whorl of small “sepals” as in M. salicifolia and M. kobus.
M. cylindrica received an Award of Merit on 30 April 1963, when shown from Windsor Great Park.