Erect but usually bushy habit, eventually, and under ideal conditions to 1.2m or so, but rarely much above 60cm in most gardens. Leaves deciduous, oblanceolate, 5-12cm long, palish green, fairly evenly and spirally borne. Flowers 5-6mm long by 1cm or more in diameter, fragrant, shades of red-purple to almost pink, in lateral clusters of two to four on bare stems from mid-winter to spring. Europe except the extreme west, south and north, Turkey Caucasus, Central Asia and Siberia, usually in forest, but at higher altitudes also in open, rocky or grassy habitats. Variable in size, habit, flower colour and time of flowering. D.m. var. autumnalis starts flowering in autumn and is said to have larger flowers. There is evidence to show that plants from the higher altitudes in central Europe which are normally under deep snow in winter start blooming in late autumn in milder British gardens. D.m. forma alba (albiflora and albida) has white flowers and yellow fruits. Several white clones are known, 'Bowles Variety' syn. 'Bowles White' being the best known. It is usually of erect habit, but varies when grown from seed from cream to pure white, and in flower size. 'Alba Plena' is double white, but no longer commercially available, and is either very rare or extinct. The same comments could be made for the double red 'Rubra Plena'. 'Rosea' comes in shade of pink. 'Variegata' has creamy-white patterned leaves (more than one clone is known). D.m. var. rubra covers those plants with deeper, more red-toned flowers.