A deciduous shrub of very rigid, thin habit, described as becoming a tree often 40 ft high in the wild; young shoots more or less covered with a rust-coloured down; winter buds reddish brown. Leaves stiff and leathery, oval, ovate, or obovate; rounded, blunt, or shortly pointed at the apex, wedge-shaped or rounded at the base, toothed, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark shining green above, covered beneath when young with a reddish short down, much of which falls away before the leaf drops; stalks 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, stout, more or less winged, and densely covered with rusty coloured down. Flowers white, all perfect, 1⁄3 in. across, borne on cymes 3 to 5 in. across. Fruits blue, 1⁄2 to 2⁄3 in. long.
Native of the southern United States; introduced to Kew in 1902. It belongs to the same group as V. prunifolium and V. lentago, from both of which it differs in its dense covering of rusty down especially on the leaf-stalk and midrib. Its habit, too, as a young shrub, is curiously rigid and its foliage narrower. It does not flower very freely in Britain but the leaves sometimes colour red in the autumn.