A deciduous shrub of open but stiff habit 6 to 8 ft high, and more in diameter, free from down in all its parts; young branches at first square, two or four of the angles afterwards developing conspicuous thin, corky wings 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. broad. Leaves narrowly oval or obovate, 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, tapered at both ends, finely toothed, dark green, glabrous or somewhat downy beneath; stalk 1⁄12 in. long. Flowers not more than three on a cyme, greenish yellow to pale green, about 1⁄4 in. across. Fruit purplish, composed normally of four ovoid lobes or pods, united only at the base, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long; frequently the number of pods is reduced to two or one, through the barrenness and non-development of the others; aril scarlet. Bot. Mag., t. 8823.
Native of China and Japan. This is one of the most distinct in the genus through the curious corky wings that develop on the branches, and through the divided purplish segments of the fruit. As a garden shrub it is valuable for the rich rosy scarlet of its decaying leaves. At Westonbirt, where there is a large group by the entrance to the Acer Glade, this species has assumed a flat-topped habit.
var. apterus Reg. E. subtriflorus Blume – This variety has no corky wings to the branches; as seen in cultivation, it also has thinner and usually longer leaves and a laxer habit.
cv. ‘Compactus’. – A low-growing variety of dense habit, in cultivation in the USA.