Description from Flora of China
Shrubs small, dioecious, to 1 m tall, spinose. Young and annual branches puberulent; branchlets alternate or subopposite, gray-brown or black-brown, scabrous, terminating in a spine. Leaves alternate or fascicled on short shoots; petiole 1.5-3 mm, densely pilose; leaf blade golden-yellow when dry, elliptic, obovate-elliptic, or obovate, rarely oblong, 1-2 cm × 5-10 mm, papery or subleathery, abaxially densely pilose especially on veins, adaxially pilose, lateral veins 3 or 4 pairs, prominent abaxially, ± impressed adaxially, base cuneate, margin often revolute, serrulate, apex obtuse or rounded, rarely emarginate. Flowers unisexual, 4-merous, usually 3-6-fascicled on short shoots. Pedicels 2-3 mm, pilose. Petals lanceolate, subequaling stamens. Styles in female flowers 2-fid or cleft to half. Drupe black at maturity, subglobose, 3-4 mm in diam., with 2 stones, with persistent calyx tube at base; fruiting pedicel 2-3 mm, pilose. Seeds brown, smooth, abaxially with margined furrow for 3/4-4/5 of length. Fl. Apr, fr. May-Aug.
This species is quite similar to Rhamnus rosthornii, but the latter differs in having leaves larger, leathery, glabrous on both surfaces, or pilose on midvein abaxially and clustered hairy in vein axils adaxially; also, the flowers and fruiting pedicels are glabrous.
● Forests on mountain slopes; 1800-2400 m. Yunnan.