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A rigidly branched shrub 5 to 10 ft high, more in diameter; young shoots slightly warted, but not downy. Leaves pointed, narrowly oval or oblong, 2 to 5 in. long, 1⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. wide, tapering at the base, of firm, almost hard texture, very dark, glossy green above, paler below. They are (usually) quite entire, or there are a few scattered teeth on the margins of leaves of vigorous shoots; stalk 1⁄2 in. or less long. Flowers about 1⁄3 in. across, pure white, crowded in dense, axillary clusters, produced during April. Fruits oval, 1⁄2 in. long, borne on slender stalks 1⁄2 in. long, ripe in September, first reddish, then blackish purple. Boi. Mag., t. 6800.
Native of Lazistan, near the south-eastern coast of the Black Sea; discovered in 1866 by Balansa, and introduced to France by seeds the same year. The first record of its flowering in this country is in the nursery at Knap Hill, in April, 1883. Owing to its being grafted on privet (an evil practice) in the early days of its cultivation, many of the plants were short-lived, and the reputation of the plant suffered. Raised from seeds or cuttings, it is quite satisfactory. It is very hardy. There is some variation in the foliage, one form being much narrower in leaf.