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A deciduous shrub up to 5 ft high, with angular branches, and of rounded, bushy habit. Leaves composed of two unequal pairs of leaflets, the terminal pair the larger; the common stalk is sharp-tipped, and remains after the leaflets have fallen, but it does not develop into the formidable spine seen in C. brevispina or gerardiana; stipules 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long, becoming stiff spines. Leaflets very variable in size; in young plants as much as 11⁄2 in. long and 3⁄4 in. wide, usually obovate, but on old flowering shoots 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long; glabrous and lustrous, rounded at the apex. Flower 11⁄4 in. long, solitary on its slender stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, reddish yellow. Calyx bell-shaped, nearly 1⁄2 in. long, with five short, triangular teeth. Pod 11⁄2 in. long, slender, glabrous.
Native of N. China; introduced in 1773. It is distinct for its large, dark green, glossy, membranous leaflets, larger in a young state than those of any other cultivated caragana. The bruised bark smells like liquorice. Often grafted on standards of C. arborescens, it makes a handsome bushy-topped small tree. Flowers in May and June.