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A deciduous shrub, often nearly leafless, 3 or 4 ft high, of sturdy habit, forming a low, wide mass of rather rigid, erect, grooved branches. Leaves stalkless, narrowly obovate, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, clothed with appressed silvery hairs, and soon falling. Flowers produced in April and May, singly or in pairs from the joints of the preceding year’s wood, deep golden yellow, each flower 1⁄2 in. long, on a somewhat shorter stalk. Pod 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, hairy, three- or four-seeded. Bot. Mag., t. 7618.
Native of France from the Loire southwards to Central Spain; long cultivated in English gardens (Philip Miller grew it in the Chelsea Physic Garden in the mid-eighteenth century). The exceptionally rich golden colour of its flowers makes this species well worth cultivation; it should have the sunniest possible position. Its foliage is a negligible quantity, but the numerous dark green branchlets give the effect of an evergreen. It can be increased in the usual way (see under praecox), but plants so raised are not so long-lived as seedlings. It is said to have purgative and emetic properties, but is poisonous in large quantity, and not used in medicine.