A deciduous shrub, said to become 6 ft high, but rarely more than half as high in this country; bark of branches downy when quite young, peeling when old. Leaves pinnate, 2 to 3 in. long, composed of eleven to seventeen leaflets. Leaflets oval to orbicular, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, the main-stalk of the leaf and the under-surface of the leaflets covered with down. Racemes produced from the leaf-axils of the current year’s growth, 3 to 5 in. long, very downy, carrying four to nine flowers towards the end. Flowers yellow, pea-shaped, 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, each on a stalk 1⁄8 in. long; calyx downy, 1⁄3 in. long, with slender pointed teeth. Pod 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, cylindrical, covered with glandular hairs, one-or two-seeded. Blossoms in June and July.
Native of the south-eastern part of European Russia, in the regions of the rivers Volga (from which it takes its name) and Don. It is frequently found in arid places and on dry hillsides. Introduced in 1786. It is quite hardy in the south of England, but may need the protection of a wall in the north. It likes abundant sunshine, and during hot summers flowers profusely. It is only after such seasons that seeds ripen. As a rule it is grafted on standards of laburnum or caragana, when it forms a big, mop-headed plant with semi-pendent branches. Plants raised in that way are sometimes short-lived, but it is probably the best and easiest way, for plants raised from seed are not easy to rear. They are very liable to decay through damp during the winter, and should for two years be kept in pots, then planted out on a well-drained site. When grafted on the laburnum, no special precautions are needed.
C. grandiflora Reg. – Leaves with seventeen to twenty-five leaflets; racemes with ten to sixteen flowers. Pods to 13⁄4 in. long, less downy than in C. wolgarica. Native of Turkestan.