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A deciduous shrub of graceful, spreading habit, with long slender branches, and 6 to 8 ft high. Leaves aromatically scented, obovate or oblanceolate, 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, dark green, quite entire, and glabrous except on the nerves of the young leaves. Flowers unisexual, the parts in fours, males in short racemes produced from the joints of the previous year’s wood, green, scarcely 1⁄4 in. across, with downy stalks. Female flowers on separate plants, solitary. Fruits about 3⁄4 in. across, brown, and composed usually of four compressed, one-seeded carpels.
Native of China and Japan. As this pleasing and elegant shrub bears its male and female flowers on different plants, its fruits are only obtainable when both sexes are grown. According to Wilson, who saw them in China, they have the curious and interesting faculty when ripe of shooting out the seed a distance of several feet in the same way as Impatiens does. The leaves have a pleasant, spicy odour when crushed and turn pale yellow in the autumn. This shrub is said to be largely used by the Japanese as a hedge plant.