A deciduous shrub 3 to 10 ft high, straggling or erect, sometimes spreading by suckers and forming dense thickets of stems; or a small tree to 20 ft high. Leaves oval or oblong to almost rounded, 1 to 23⁄4 in. long, blunt or acute at the apex, densely downy beneath when unfolding, later glabrous, margins rather coarsely toothed almost to the base of the leaf. Flowers white, to about 11⁄4 in. wide, in loose racemes; top of ovary densely downy. Fruit juicy, purplish black, with a glaucous tinge.
Native of eastern N. America from S. Quebec to N. Carolina.
var. grandiflora (Wieg.) Rehd. A. sanguinea f. grandiflora Wieg. A. amabilis Wieg. – Flowers to 13⁄4 in. across, the lowermost on stalks up to 13⁄5 in. long. Such forms are considered by Jones (op. cit.) to be part of the normal variation of the species.
A. gaspensis (Wieg.) Fern. A. sanguinea var. gaspensis Wieg. – This species is confined to a small area of Canada around the St Lawrence estuary. It is unusual in bearing its flowers when the leaves are fully expanded; the leaves, too, are more rounded at the apex than in A. sanguinea, truncate at the base, and the flowers smaller, to 3⁄4 in. wide at the most.