This was described in 1871 when Father Armand David, a missionary in China, sent back specimens to Paris. The British botanist Augustine Henry found further specimens but it wasn’t until EH Wilson, at the instigation of Harry Veitch’s Nursery, returned from expeditions to China in 1902 that plants were brought back to Britain.
The tree grows to 25m, with a crown that is initially conic, maturing to a high dome on radiating branches. The bark is purple to grey brown. The leaves are ovate and similar to a lime tree. The small flowers, in tight globose heads, initially purple and 6mm across under a large green bract, mature in late May to a yellow head 2 cm across, under a large, hanging, shining white bract. We have two trees, from a cutting from the original importation of EH Wilson.