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A deciduous shrub of lax, spreading habit and free growth, 5 or 6 ft high; young shoots glabrous, pale shining grey, armed at each joint with a sharp slender spine 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Leaves linear, 1 to 21⁄4 in. long, 1⁄6 to 1⁄3 in. wide, pointed, the lower two-thirds toothed (sometimes sparsely), dark glossy green, glabrous. Flowers white, 3⁄8 in. wide, borne in early spring one to three together along with a cluster of leaves from the joints of the previous summer’s growth, each flower on a glabrous stalk 1⁄6 in. long. Petals five, obovate, 1⁄5 in. wide; stamens ten; anthers yellow. Fruits globose, 1⁄3 in. wide, purple with a slight bloom when ripe.
Native of Shensi, China; introduced to the Arnold Arboretum by W. Purdom in 1911, thence to England a few years later. It is closely akin to P. sinensis, but that species has yellow flowers, longer flower-stalks, and mostly toothless leaves, P. uniflora grows very freely at Kew, making long, slender, very leafy shoots annually. But, flowering as it does early in the year, it is apt to suffer from inclement weather. For the same reason it rarely develops fruit. Farrer under his number 278 describes the fruits as ‘glowing pendulous drops of crimson’; personally I have never seen living fruits but they appear in the dried state to be black-purple, and Batalin, the author of the name, describes them as ‘schwarz, bereift’.