A deciduous shrub 3 to 10 ft high, with glabrous young wood. Leaves alternate, oval, oblong or ovate, thin, not (or very slightly) toothed, tapered more abruptly towards the base than the apex, quite glabrous, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄8 in. wide; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers often unisexual, small, of no beauty; produced from the leaf-axils usually singly, occasionally a few together on a thread-like stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Fruit a globose berry, 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. wide, pale crimson, containing four or five hard bony nutlets.
Native of eastern N. America; introduced in 1802. Although introduced so long ago, this shrub never appears to have obtained much recognition in this country. Unless it bears its fruits freely it is of no garden value, and our summer sun is probably not hot enough to develop its best qualities in that respect. I have never seen it in Britain bearing fruit anything like so freely as it does in N. America.
Some plants have flowers of both sexes as well as perfect flowers, others have those of one sex only.