Native from Europe to northern China. Sturdy, long lived, practically immortal in colder climates, needing little care once established. Forms clumps 2 4 feet high, 3 feet wide. In early summer, produces loose spires of blossoms at branch tips; each flower resembles a wild azalea, with narrow petals and promi- nent greenish stamens. Pink is the basic color, but nurseries offer lilac-purple 'Purpureus' and white 'Albiflorus'. Seedpods that follow can be left in place for fall. Glossy, olive-green leaves with 9 to 11 leaflets, each 13 inches long, are handsome throughout growing season. Not browsed by deer.
Plant emits a strong lemony scent when rubbed or brushed against. In warm, humid weather, oils from immature seed capsules may briefly ignite if you hold a match immediately beneath a flower clusterhence the common name gas plant (this ignition test does not harm plant).
Effective in borders; good cut flower. Divide infrequently, since divisions are difficult to establish and often take 2 or 3 years to bloom well. Propagate from seed sown in fall or spring; or take root cuttings in spring.