An evergreen shrub to 12 ft high; stems glabrous; spines three-parted, up to 1 in. long. Leaves three to five together in tufts, glabrous, leathery, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, oval or obovate, lustrous green above, often grey-white beneath, the apex and upper two-thirds set with slender, spiny teeth. Flowers variously arranged at each leaf-cluster, some being solitary on their stalks and in fascicles, others on an umbel 1 in. long; they are citron-yellow, and about the average size of barberry flowers. Fruit black, but covered with an abundant greyish bloom, 1⁄4 in. long.
Introduced to France from Yunnan, China, by the Abbé Delavay in 1894, this species reached Kew three years later. It is a promising shrub, somewhat similar in general appearance to B. glaucocarpa, but quite distinct in the arrangement of its flowers. It commences to bloom at the end of April. It has reached a height of about 10 ft in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley.
var. longifolia Ahrendt – Leaves narrower than in the type, 2 to 33⁄5 in. long, 2⁄5 to 4⁄5 in. wide. berries slightly styled. described from a cultivated plant which may, Dr Ahrendt suggests, be of hybrid origin.