A densely branched deciduous shrub to about 6 ft high with glabrous shoots, red when young, later grey. Spines thin, about 1⁄2 in. long, simple or three-parted. Leaves entire, oblanceolate, obovate, or lanceolate, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, blunt at the apex, tapering at the base into a very short stalk, dull grey-green above, greyish beneath. Flowers clustered, or in a short-stalked umbel or condensed raceme. Berries deep lustrous red, oblong to pear-shaped, about 2⁄5 in. long, without a style.
Native of China in Yunnan and S.W. Szechwan; discovered by the French missionary Delavay, and an old plant at Kew was probably raised from seed sent by him to France about 1885. It was later collected by Forrest and is in cultivation from his seed also. It closely resembles B. thunbergii.
B. thibetica Schneid. – This species is of little garden merit. It was introduced to Kew in 1903 by Maurice de Vilmorin, from seed collected by the French missionary Soulié on the borders of Yunnan and Tibet. It is related to the preceding, but the berries are bright red, larger, and bear a style; the leaves are prominently net-veined.
B. stearnii Ahrendt – This species differs from B. lecomtei in its stylose fruit and from B. thibetica in the duller colouring of the fruit and the scarcely veined leaves. Dr Ahrendt remarks that it is decorative in spring, when the flower-buds are red and the young growth bright green, mottled with red. In cultivation from F. 29042.