Shrubs to 4 m or so tall but generally much less. Leaves ovate to obovate, losing waxiness on the lower surface, hairy or with hairs on veins only; vein pairs 6-11. Flower clusters 2-9 cm long, spaced along the stalk; early spring. Flowers 5-35, yellow. Stamens with anthers yellow or purple. Fruit capsule hairy.
C. willmottiae Rehder & Wils. which has been quite widely cultivated, though not so much in Australia, is now included with C. sinensis. Plants offered in the trade as C. glabrescens Franch & Sav. (which has ovate sepals, flowers widely spaced on a hairless stalk and relatively small leaves to 8 cm long) may at least sometimes be C. spicata Siebold & Zucc.
C. sinensis var. calvescens Franch. & Sav. f. veitchiana (Bean) B.D. Morley & J.M.Chao is a form also well known to horticulture and once recognised as a species; it has red protruding stamens (distinguished from C. spicata by the leaves being hairless below).
Source: (1997). Hamamelidaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.
Young leaves purple. Selected at Hilliers' Nursery, uk and named in 1969.