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A deciduous shrub of vigorous habit, forming a large spreading bush up to 12 ft or more high, and twice as much wide; stems stout, very pithy, grey, scarcely or not armed. Leaves composed of three, sometimes five, leaflets on a common stalk 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long; leaflets narrowly oval or obovate 2 to 5 in. long, about half as wide, the central one the largest; tapering at both ends, very short-stalked, irregularly toothed, almost or quite glabrous on both sides, but slightly harsh to the touch. Flowers produced in July and August, at the end of the shoot, packed closely in a globose, almost stalkless cluster 1 in. across, brown-purple with yellowish protruding stamens. Fruits in a spherical head, 1 to 11⁄4 in. across, inky black.
Native of Manchuria, China, and Korea, introduced to St Petersburg about 1860. It is one of the hardiest shrubs introduced from N. Asia, and one, fortunately, that is not enticed into premature growth by unseasonable winter warmth. Whilst its flowers have no beauty, the black fruits are rather striking, and the shrub itself is handsome. The finest specimen I have seen was in the Botanic Garden at Herrenhausen, Hanover; in 1908 this was 12 ft high and 21 ft in diameter – a broad-based pyramid of foliage. Propagated by seeds. The allied A. divaricatus (q.v.) is easily distinguished by its more downy character.