A shrub, or small tree, up to 30 ft high in some of its native localities, and varying also from deciduous to evergreen, according to locality; young twigs downy. Leaves ovate, obovate or oval, 1⁄2 in. to 2 in. long, half as wide, very shortly stalked, mostly pointed, minutely and sparsely glandular-toothed, the margins slightly recurved; of leathery texture, glabrous and of a very glossy dark green above, slightly downy beneath. Flowers produced during July and August singly in the axils of the leaves or in the axils of bracts on terminal racemes 1 to 2 in. long, each on a slender stalk 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long, with two minute bracts about the middle. Corolla white, bell-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, five-lobed, the lobes reflexed. Calyx small, the five lobes triangular. Fruits 1⁄4 in. wide, black, roundish. The flower is jointed to the stalk. Bot. Mag., t. 1607.
Native of the south and east United States, as far north as Virginia and Missouri; introduced to Kew by John Cree in 1765. In the British Isles it is a deciduous shrub, said by Loudon in 1837 to have been 10 ft high in the walled garden at White Knights, near Reading. It was quite hardy when grown at Kew, pretty and free-flowering, but slow in growth. The form in cultivation is, no doubt, from the northern limits of its distribution, but the evergreen tree form ought to be tried in the mildest counties.