6. Stachyurus chinensis Franchet, J. Bot. (Morot). 12: 254. 1898.
中国旌节花 zhong guo jing jie hua
Stachyurus caudatilimbus C. Y. Wu ex S. K. Chen; S. chinensis subsp. cuspidatus (H. L. Li) Y. C. Tang & Y. L. Cao; S. chinensis var. cuspidatus H. L. Li; S. chinensis subsp. latus (H. L. Li) Y. C. Tang & Y. L. Cao; S. chinensis var. latus H. L. Li; S. duclouxii Pitard ex Chung; S. sigeyosii Masamune.
Shrubs deciduous, 2-4 m tall. Petiole 1-2 cm; leaf blade ovate or oblong-ovate to oblong-elliptic, or suborbicular, 5-12 × 3-7 cm, papery to membranous, abaxially glabrous or sparsely pubescent along midvein and lateral veins, adaxially glabrous, lateral veins 5- or 6-paired, raised on both sides, base usually subcordate, or obtuse, margin crenate-serrate, apex acuminate to shortly caudate-acuminate, or rarely retuse. Spikes 5-10 cm. Flowers opening before leaves appear, yellow, ca. 7 mm, subsessile or shortly pedicellate; bract triangular-ovate, ca. 3 mm, apex acute; bracteoles ovate, ca. 2 cm. Sepals yellow-green, ovate, ca. 3.5 mm, apex obtuse. Petals ovate, ca. 6.5 mm, apex rounded. Ovary bottle-shaped, puberulous; style ca. 2 mm. Fruit globose, 6-7 mm in diam., glabrous. Fl. Mar-Apr, fr. May-Jul. 2n = 24*.
● Forests, thickets, forest margins; 400-3000 m. Anhui, Chongqing, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang.
This most widely distributed species in the genus is very highly polymorphic in the shape, size, and apices of the leaves. The apices of the leaves are highly variable, but the variation seems to be continuous. The bases of the leaves are usually subcordate, and seemingly the most stable diagnostic character for this species. The plants from Taiwan are more narrowly oblong-elliptic, but show no essential differences from those of Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi. From the subcordate leaf bases of the Taiwan plants, it seems more reasonable to refer them to Stachyurus chinensis than to S. himalaicus. These two species are usually distinguishable by leaf shape, particularly the leaf base, but the plants from SW Sichuan, SE Xizang, and NW Yunnan cannot be distinctly differentiated from those of the Himalayan region. In a broader sense, the two species may be better treated as conspecific.