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An evergreen shrub from 6 to 12 ft high in the wild; young shoots glabrous, eventually grey. Leaves pinnate, 11⁄2 to 4 in. long, made up of three to nine leaflets. Leaflets oval, ovate, or lanceolate, with three to five spine-tipped teeth at each side and a slender spine-tipped apex, 1⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. long, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. wide, terminal leaflet stalked, longer and relatively narrower than the lateral ones, of a conspicuous glaucous hue and quite glabrous. Flowers pale yellow, 1⁄4 in. wide, produced in slender-stalked racemes 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, carrying about six flowers. Fruits juicy, blood-red, globose, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. wide.
Native of western N. America in the States of New Mexico, Colorado, W. Texas, and California; introduced to Kew in 1916. In general appearance this species bears a strong resemblance to M. fremontii. It is, nevertheless, very distinct from that species in its rich red fruits. As sunny a position as possible should be allotted to it. It seems disinclined to branch and makes slender erect shoots densely furnished with leaves. The fruits are used for making jam in its native country, but our climate is doubtless too dull for it to bear them freely enough to be of any value in that respect here.
M. swaseyi (Buckland) Fedde, is a species from Texas also with red fruits and closely related to the foregoing. It is distinguished by having broadly ovate bracts up to 1⁄3 in. long (see also M. nevinii).