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A deciduous shrub becoming in some climates a bush 8 or 10 ft high, although at Kew its stems are only annual and grow from 3 to 7 ft high during the season, dying down to ground-level every winter. Leaves trifoliolate, slender-stalked; leaflets varying in size from 3⁄4 to 2 in. in length by about two-thirds as much wide, broadly oval or obovate, the midrib enlongated into a small terminal bristle, the middle leaflet is larger and longer stalked than the others, all being dark green above, pale beneath, and clothed sparsely on both sides with appressed hairs or glabrous above. Racemes slender stalked, 2 to 5 in. long, produced in the leaf-axils from the uppermost 2 ft of the stem. Flowers rosy-purple, less than 1⁄2 in. long, confined to the terminal part of the raceme. Calyx 1⁄6 in. long, hairy, the teeth not so slender and sharp-pointed as in L. thunbergii. Pods ovate, downy, 1⁄3 in. long, one-seeded.
Native of Manchuria, N. China, and Japan; introduced to Europe by Maximowicz, the Russian botanist, in 1856. It is not so handsome and desirable a plant as L. thunbergii, with which it has been much confounded. In countries with a hotter summer than ours, the stems made each year do not die back more than half their length, and the plant thus increases gradually in height. In the Arnold Arboretum, Mass., it forms a bush comparable with a colutea. Flowers in August and September.
† cv. ‘Summer Beauty’. – Flowers borne over a long period in late summer (early July to late September). It makes a spreading shrub to about 5 ft high, which should be pruned in spring, but not to ground level. Raised in Holland (Dendroflora No. 19, p. 88 (1932)).
† cv. ‘Yakushima’. – Of dwarf habit, to about 1 ft high, with smaller leaves and flowers.