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A freely branching deciduous shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots long and slender, glabrous, grooved, pale grey, armed with short, stiff, spine-tipped, axillary, leafy branches. Leaves alternate, elliptical to ovate, pointed, tapered at the base, minutely toothed, 1⁄2 to 2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. wide, glabrous, veins prominent beneath, one to three each side the midrib; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long, very slender. Flowers stalkless, very small and white, ranging from solitary to forming terminal leafy panicles 1 to 3 in. long, and opening in May. Fruit a subglobose, black drupe, 1⁄6 in. wide.
Native of N. China and in cultivation at Kew since before 1919. It is very hardy. The specific name refers to the few veins of the leaf as compared with those of other species.