Caragana pygmaea auct.
Genista versicolor Wall.
Caragana versicolor is a thorny, dense, much-branched, deciduous shrub growing from a thick woody rootstock; it can grow up to 80cm tall[
The plant is an important source of fuel within its native range - mainly because so few woody species are able to grow there. The plant is also harvested from the wild for local medicinal use.
Asia - Alpine regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, northwestern India, Nepal and western China
Rocky slopes, riversides, among shrubs; at elevations from 3,000 - 4,900 metres[
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Caragana versicolor prefers a continental climate with its hot summers, cold winters and usually a clear movement from one season to another. The dormant plant can tolerate temperatures down to at least -30°c, but in more maritime climates it is often tempted to come into growth early and this new growth can easily be damaged by late spring frosts[
Prefers full sun and a light sandy dry or well-drained soil[
]. Does not require a rich soil, succeeding on marginal land[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
The stems are used in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea[
The plant has been used in the treatment of food poisoning, fevers and throat infections[
The plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals; mark out land boundaries; whilst also providing a range of medicinal and other uses[
Although the plant is small, it grows in a region where very few wooden plants can survive so it is an important source of fuel[
]. The woody roots are commonly used[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. It usually germinates in 2 weeks[
]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water then sown in a cold frame[
]. If the seed has not swollen then scarify it and re-soak for another 12 hours before sowing[
]. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks at 20°c[
]. Good percentage[
]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame[
Layering in spring.