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An evergreen shrub 2 to 5 ft high; young stems densely covered at first with a white, woolly indumentum, later glabrous. Leaves roundish in general outline, 21⁄2 to 4 in. long and wide, shallowly five-lobed, covered with white stellate down on both surfaces but occasionally only thinly so on the upper surface; stalk up to 11⁄4 in. long (rarely longer). Flowers borne singly or in pairs in the leaf-axils on scurfy stalks much longer than the leaf-stalks. Involucre much shorter than the calyx, which has triangular-ovate sepals, becoming united in the fruiting stage. Petals pale pink, with a crimson blotch at the base, obcordate, 5⁄8 to 11⁄8 in. long. Segments of fruits black when ripe, flat or slightly concave on the back. It flowers in cultivation from May until autumn. Bot. Mag., t. 8997.
Native of the W. Mediterranean, including N.W. Africa; date of introduction uncertain.
subsp. bicolor Rouy L. bicolor (Rouy) Stapf – This is perhaps no more than an extreme state of the species, with leaves of above average size and flowers 21⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. across. It was described from a plant found at Pont St Louis near Mentone, but, curiously enough, specimens in the Kew Herbarium collected near the type locality are ordinary L. maritima and so too are all other specimens from the French coast. Those that best match subsp. bicolor are one from Ventimiglia and two from Oran in Tunisia. It was in cultivation at Kew and in the garden of the Bitton vicarage early this century and Lord Talbot has a fine specimen growing against a sunny garden wall at Malahide Castle, near Dublin.