An evergreen shrub 5 to 6 ft high, with erect, unbranching stems. Leaves 6 to 8 in. long, pinnate, consisting usually of seven leaflets, which are linear-lanceolate, taper gradually to both ends and are 3 to 4 in. long, and about 1⁄2 in. wide, margins except towards the base set with forward-pointing teeth; undersurface marked with prominent, netted veins. Flowers yellow, densely crowded on narrow, cylindrical racemes 2 to 3 in. long, erect. Blossoming in late autumn (October and November), the species rarely develops fruits in this country.
Robert Fortune found this shrub cultivated in a nursery at Shanghai, and introduced it in 1846. It has since been found wild in several parts of China. It is rather tender, and will not thrive in the open ground at Kew. It is distinct from all the other mahonias in the narrow, dull green leaflets, and in the slender racemes, less than 1⁄2 in. in diameter; but is one of the least effective.