An evergreen, glabrous shrub 5 to 6 ft high, of graceful spreading habit; young shoots round, reddish; spines three-parted, 5⁄8 in. long. Leaves linear to oblanceolate, spine-tipped; 1 to 2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. wide; margins decurved, set with one to five slender teeth at each side; bright green above, more or less glaucous beneath. Flowers produced in clusters of usually three to five, each on its slender stalk 1⁄2 to 11⁄8 in. long; very pale yellow or whitish, the petals tinged with red outside. Fruit oval, 1⁄3 in. long, black, coated slightly with blue bloom.
Native of Central China; introduced by Wilson in 1907, or possibly earlier, as he collected specimens in W. Hupeh for Messrs Veitch in June 1900. It flowers with us in May and is quite hardy. The abundant spines and needle-tipped leaves render it very well armed. It varies in the glaucousness of the under-surface of the leaves. The colour of the flowers is rather indeterminate, but in habit of growth and as a fruit-bearer it is a handsome evergreen. It is closely akin to B. sanguinea, which is distinguished by its ribbed, yellowish-grey young shoots and shorter flower-stalks; also to B. replicata, which differs in its more strongly decurved leaf-margins, their more glaucous under-surface and shorter flower-stalks. It is also related to B. gagnepainii, but in that species the stems are yellowish and the leaves green beneath.
Dr Ahrendt has pointed out (Gard. Chron., Vol. 105, p. 372, 1939) that what was distributed by Wisley as B. triacanthophora is not the true species, but a fine evergreen nonetheless. He has named these plants B. wisleyensis; they are, perhaps, hybrids with B. gagnepainii as the pollen parent.