A deciduous shrub 2 to 3 ft high, of low, spreading habit, and measuring much more in width than it does in height. Branches slender, arching outwards and downwards, the young ones covered with a minute dark-coloured down. Leaves narrow-oblong to ovate or obovate, pointed, from 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, sharply toothed, and downy or glabrous beneath. Flowers 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. across, produced singly or in pairs with the young leaf-clusters from the previous season’s shoots in April, very short-stalked; petals of a lively rose colour; calyx tubular. Fruits almost stalkless, red, 1⁄3 in. long, tapering towards the end.
This species was described in 1791 from Syria and has its main distribution in the mountains of the Near East, Crete, mainland Greece, Albania, W. Yugoslavia (as far north as Mt Velebit), and of N. Africa. It is absent from Central Europe and peninsular Italy, but occurs as a great rarity in Sardinia, Corsica, and S. Spain. In its native habitat it usually makes a close, stunted bush, very unlike the rather free-growing plant seen in this country. It needs a sunny position, and is admirably suited on some roomy shelf in the rock garden fully exposed to the sun. In such a position, following a hot summer, it flowers profusely enough almost to hide its branches. It is perfectly hardy at Kew, and it is rather remarkable that it remains so rare and little known, seeing that it was introduced (from Mt Lebanon) in 1802.