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A handsome small shrub most easily distinguished by its variable pinnatisect leaves with from three to nine parallel oblong lobes. It produces clusters of violet-purple coloured flowers towards the ends of the branches and is one of the most attractive species. Series Syringa.
A native of Kansu in western China it was presumably taken to Persia as a cultivated plant and from there made its way into western gardens in the 17th century. It is cultivated even today in gardens in Kabul and introductions from there have been incorrectly called S. afghanica, a species so far only known from a few collections in the wild with small entire privet-like leaves.