An evergreen shrub of dense habit and bushy, rounded form, up to 10 ft high; young shoots, leaves and inflorescence glabrous. Leaves very glaucous, pinnate, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, composed of five or seven leaflets, which are obovate, rounded or even indented at the apex, tapering to the base, shortly or not at all stalked; 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long. Stipules very small, awl-shaped. Flowers 1⁄2 in. long, rich yellow, borne as many as ten together in a dense umbellate cluster at the end of a common stalk 1 to 2 in. long; standard petal roundish, 1⁄2 in. long; individual flower-stalks scarcely 1⁄4 in. long. Calyx cup-shaped with shallow triangular lobes. Pod 11⁄2 in. long, ending in a slender tail, constricted between the three or four seeds. Bot. Mag., t. 13.
Native of S. Europe; introduced in 1722. Although it suffers during hard winters, even against a wall, this shrub will usually survive in many parts of Britain with wall protection, even in Essex and Suffolk. In the winter of 1962-3 it was killed almost everywhere: in the previous winter, also a testing one, it was also killed or damaged in many gardens but quite unharmed at Kew. At Highdown near Worthing it is grown fully in the open and seeds itself freely. The flowers are fragrant in the daytime, but scentless at night; they are produced most freely from April to June, but in the south-west it flowers from late autumn onwards also. It requires full sunshine and grows well in a light, loamy soil.
cv. ‘Pygmaea’. – A very charming dwarf form of neat habit and rounded shape, usually 11⁄2 to 2 ft high, flowering very freely in autumn.
There is also a pretty variegated form, not quite so hardy as the type.