Description from Flora of China
Andrachne chinensis Bunge, Enum. Pl. China Bor. 59. 1833; A. bodinieri H. Léveillé; A. capillipes (Pax) Hutchinson; A. capillipes var. pubescens Hutchinson; A. chinensis var. pubescens (Hutchinson) Handel-Mazzetti; A. colchica Fischer & C. A. Meyer ex Boissier; A. cordifolia Hemsley; A. hirsuta Hutchinson; A. lolonum Handel-Mazzetti; A. montana Hutchin son; A. nana (P. T. Li) Govaerts; A. yunnanensis (P. T. Li) Govaerts; Flueggea capillipes Pax; Leptopus capillipes (Pax) Pojarkova; L. chinensis var. hirsutus (Hutchinson) P. T. Li; L. chinensis var. pubescens (Hutchinson) S. B. Ho; L. colchicus (Fischer & C. A. Meyer ex Boissier) Pojarkova; L. hirsutus (Hutchinson) Pojarkova; L. lolonum (Handel-Mazzetti) Pojarkova; L. montanus (Hutchinson) Pojarkova; L. nanus P. T. Li; L. yunnanensis P. T. Li.
Erect shrubs, 0.5-4 m tall, monoecious (rarely dioecious). Branchlets longitudinally ribbed, sometimes terete, light green to brown. Stipules ovate to triangular, base truncate to cordate or auriculate, apex acute to acuminate, ferruginous to almost black; petiole 0.5-8 × 0.15-0.4 mm; leaf blade ovate to lanceolate, sometimes oblong or orbicular, (0.5-)0.8-3(-5) × (0.3-)0.4-1.5(-2.3) cm, membranous to papery, drying concolorous to discolorous green to yellow-green, brown, gray, or dark red, both surfaces glabrous to densely hirsute, base acute to truncate, rarely cordate, apex obtuse to acuminate, usually acute, sometimes mucronate; secondary veins 3-6 pairs. Inflorescences unisexual or bisexual, male inflorescence axis 0-0.1(-3) mm. Male flowers 1-4 per fascicle, 2-5 mm in diam.; pedicel 3-12 mm; sepals obovate to oblong, apex rounded, 1.8-3.5 × 0.8-1.8 mm, rarely with 1 or 2 digitate glands at base; petals obovate to spatulate or elliptic, 1-1.8 × 0.3-1 mm, apex rounded to truncate; disk bilobed for 1/3-2/3 of length. Female flowers 1 or 2 per fascicle, 3-6 mm in diam., rotate; pedicel 6-14 mm; sepals ovate to obovate or oblong, 1-3.5 × 0.8-2.5 mm, apex rounded to cuspidate, often with 1 or 2 digitate glands at base; petals obovate, 0.2-0.6 × 0.2-0.3 mm, apex rounded; disk bilobed for 1/3-1/2 of length; ovary 3-locular, glabrous to hirsute; styles 3, glabrous. Fruiting pedicel 7-22 mm; sepals not accrescent; capsule smooth to faintly reticulate, glabrous to hirsute, drying red-brown to brown. Seed smooth, yellow to red-brown.
Leptopus chinensis encompasses a great variety of flexible phenotypes, several of which have been described as separate species. Leaf size and overall appearance can also vary with plant age. Leptopus chinensis is cultivated in many botanic gardens in Europe and North America, usually labeled as L. colchicus.
Leptopus yunnanensis falls within the polymorphic species L. chinensis. The type of L. yunnanensis has cordate leaf blade bases, wide acuminate female sepals with digitate glands at the base, and a yellowish drying color. However, these characters vary independently from one another over a wide geographic range, and many plants have intermediate characteristics.
Stony slopes, open scrub or mixed forest understories on a variety of substrates; sea level to 3000 m. Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan [Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia (N Caucasus); SW Asia (Abkhazia, Georgia, Iran)].