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A deciduous shrub of stiff, rounded habit, 3 to 5 ft high; winter-buds pointed, four-angled, with several lanceolate scales. Leaves mostly oval, 1 to 2 in. long, downy along the midrib beneath, sometimes over the entire surface when quite young. Flowers produced in axillary pairs, each pair on a glabrous or slightly downy, slender stalk 3⁄4 to over 1 in. long; corolla pink, about 1⁄3 in. long and broad, two-lipped, the tube short and broad. Berries bluish black, united only at the base.
Native of the alpine regions of Middle and S. Europe; introduced in the 16th century, but of little value in gardens. Several forms, varying chiefly in the degree of pubescence on the leaves, flower-stalks, etc., have been distinguished, but are not of sufficient importance to be noticed here. It is best marked by its slender flower-stalks and black fruits.