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A small genus of deciduous shrubs, natives of the Old World, with unequally pinnate leaves and yellow, coppery, or reddish-brown, pea-shaped flowers borne in few-flowered racemes. The most distinctive character of the genus is the large, thin-walled, inflated pod, which, when half ripe, may be made to burst with a miniature report when squeezed. There is nothing similar among hardy Leguminosae, and among all hardy shrubs similar fruits occur only in Staphylea and Koelreuieria.
In gardens the coluteas do not figure largely; although the commonest species, C. arborescens, is sometimes seen in rough shrubberies. They all flower late, and over a long season, which is in their favour; and all except C. istria are of the easiest cultivation, thriving in any soil and any situation except a very shaded one. Those species that produce seeds are easily propagated by them, the others can be struck from cuttings made of half-ripened wood placed in gentle heat.