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A soft-stemmed shrub 5 to 6 ft high, branching from the base; stems and leaves covered with white stellate hairs when young. Leaves up to 6 in. long, the lower ones three- to five-lobed, cordate at the base, the upper ones lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, slightly three-lobed or almost unlobed. Flowers short-stalked, borne singly or in pairs in the leaf-axils. Segments of the involucre almost equal in length to the calyx. Sepals of calyx triangular-ovate. Petals obovate, 5⁄8 to 11⁄8 in. long, purplish red. Segments of fruits hairy, yellowish when ripe, with rounded angles. It flowers from midsummer until autumn.
A native of the coasts of the W. Mediterranean, introduced before 1570. Although usually seen in herbaceous borders it is really more of a shrub than a herbaceous plant and is not out of place when planted with other sun-loving shrubs from the Mediterranean. It will grow in any soil that is not too wet or sour but is most at home on chalk. One of the localities in which it grows wild is the lies d’Hyères off the coast of France, known in Roman times as Olbia Gallo-provincialis.