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A deciduous shrub, much branched, spiny, growing 8 to 10 ft high against a wall; young shoots pale, slightly angled, glabrous. Leaves clustered, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄12 to 1⁄8 in. wide, linear, tapered at the base, grey-green, glabrous. Flowers on stalks 1⁄3 in. long, produced in May and June. Corolla tubular, 1⁄4 in. wide, 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, with five shallow, erect lobes, very dark purple. Calyx bell-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, with five triangular teeth; stamens enclosed within the corolla, each with a tuft of hairs half-way down. Berries red, finally purple-black, egg-shaped, 1⁄3 in. long, with the calyx persisting at the base.
Native of South Africa; in cultivation 1712. This species requires a sunny wall for it to be seen at its best. It was highly spoken of by early writers growing in such a position, and it has flowered with great freedom in the garden at Bitton. It is cultivated in N. Africa, about Algiers, etc., but does not appear to be a genuine native of that region. It is cultivated in southern France, in hedges around habitations, and sometimes escapes into waste ground. The records of this species from Spain and Portugal may have the same explanation, as certainly do the Italian records.