Extremely rare tree in the Rosaceae from the Andes. John Grimshaw and Ross Bayton authored a fantastic book in 2010 "New Trees: Recent Introductions to Cultivation" in which the genus Polylepis was described sparingly as only one species, P. australis is grown and that to a very limited extent. The text discussed how more species need to be trialed as they have fantastic bark like the best Acer griseum and some species come from very high elevation and may have potential for hardiness in areas such as the West Coast and surely milder parts of the UK. Shortly after reading this we learned of a seed collecting expedition to the Andes and asked that they look for Polylepis for us and here is one of the results.
These are cutting-grown and will need to be protected from cold their first winter for sure. Excellent foliage which has been evergreen for us with superb sinuous trunk and branching structure which are thickly papered in sheets of exfoliating bark. Flowers are nothing - little colorless bits of dangling insignificance. We sound a little bitter because we have not quite gotten over our disappointment at the first flowering of our parent trees thinking that Rose Family would equate to a flower of some merit, but we had failed to closely read the botanical description referring to the "apetalous flowers" which means no petals. But really, flowers on a tree of this extraordinary character would be like putting whipped cream on your ice cream in which two excellent individual components are diminished in synergy. We think Zone 8 for this and careful siting in colder portions of this zone.