A low, spreading, much-branched shrub 1 to 11⁄2 ft high. Branches very spiny, downy when young; spines (modified leaf-stalks) 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, slender; stipules narrow, 1⁄8 in. long, scarcely spiny, silky. Leaves 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, composed of three to five pairs of leaflets, which are rather variable in outline, oblanceolate, obovate or oblong, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. in length, woolly. Flower 11⁄4 in. long, yellow, solitary on a downy stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Calyx 1⁄2 in. long, bell-shaped, downy, and with short, triangular teeth. Pod 1 to 11⁄4 in. long, shaggy with silky hairs, the lower half enclosed by the persisting calyx.
Native of Tibet, N. China, Siberia; introduced in 1816. It is doubtful if the true plant is now in cultivation, the shrub commonly seen under the name being C. spinosa, which has smaller flowers and a glabrous pod and calyx. C. tragacantboides is rather variable, some forms like var. villosa Reg. having the young branches densely covered with shaggy grey hairs.