A deciduous bush, or small tree, with alternate, trifoliolate leaves. Leaflets 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, narrow oval, covered with fine down beneath, greyish green. Flowers pea-shaped, yellow, produced in short racemes on the growth of the previous year; each flower 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, and but little expanded; calyx bell-shaped, downy and ciliated, green; petals yellow, the standard one hooded; wings narrow oblong. The racemes are 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, and carry six to twenty flowers. Seed-pod 3 to 5 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. broad, pointed at both ends, curved like a scimitar, and containing three or four seeds.
Native of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and requiring at Kew the protection of a south wall – even there occasionally killed. The specific name refers to the unpleasant odour of the leaves, which is, however, only perceptible when they are crushed. The tree is known in the south of France as 'bois puant' on that account. The flowers are inodorous. In S. Europe they open in early spring, later in Britain.