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A dwarf, more or less decumbent, deciduous shrub 1 to 3 ft high, with round slender stems covered when young with outstanding (not appressed) hairs. Leaves trifoliolate; leaflets oval, or broadly obovate, up to 3⁄8 in. long, half as much wide, under-surface shaggy. Flowers yellow, 1 in. or more long, produced in axillary clusters of two to four blossoms; standard petal stained with brown in the centre, roundish, and as much as 3⁄4 in. across; calyx tubular, very hairy, 1⁄2 in. long. Pod 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, flattened, shaggy. Bot. Mag., t. 6819.
Native of S. Europe; introduced nearly two hundred years ago, but not often seen. It has been much confused with supinus and ratisbonensis; the former is, of course, quite distinct in its terminal inflorescence (but see the remarks under that species); the latter, which is the more closely allied, has the hairs on the various parts appressed.
var. hirsutissimus (K. Koch) Boiss., is sometimes seen in gardens. It is a sturdier, more erect form found farther east than the type occurring in Asia Minor; the leaves, calyx, and pods are even more hirsute. Up to 3 or 4 ft high.
C. ciliatus Wahlenb., is native in S.E. Europe and Turkey. It is sometimes made a variety of hirsutus, from which it differs chiefly in the pods being hairy only on the seams, or even almost glabrous. Habit and flower as in ordinary C. hirsutus. Introduced in 1817. C. falcatus Waldst. & Kit. is intermediate between this species and C. hirsutus, and perhaps a hybrid between them. Found wild in Central Europe.