A deciduous shrub 9 to 12 ft high; young shoots slender and at first very finely downy. Leaves of five leaflets which are lanceoloate or oblanceolate, slender-pointed, toothed; 4 to 6 in. long, 2 to 31⁄2 in. wide; covered with a down beneath that is at first greyish, then rust-coloured, their stalks about 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers 11⁄2 in. long borne in pyramidal panicles 6 to 10 in. high, opening in May. Calyx tubular, bright red, 1⁄3 in. wide; petals scarlet. Fruit roundish to obovoid; seeds 11⁄4 in. wide, chestnut-brown.
Native of the S.E. United States. It is one of the smooth-fruited species and is related to A. pavia, which differs in the glabrous or nearly glabrous undersurface of the leaves. Sargent observes of A. splendens that its flowers are probably the handsomest in the genus. At Kew this shrub has proved rather disappointing, its flowers being of a lacklustre scarlet, in narrow panicles.