A deciduous, unisexual shrub, ultimately 12 ft high, and as much in diameter; of somewhat loose habit; young branches angular, glabrous. Leaves grey-green, alternate, very variable in shape and size, broadly obovate to narrowly oval, coarsely and unevenly toothed, except those on the flowering portion of the shoot, which are entire; 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, tapering at the base to a stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long; both surfaces are freely sprinkled with resin dots, and rather viscid. Flower-heads produced in October in axillary, stalked clusters, about five in a cluster. The shoots of the year branch at the top into numerous short twigs furnished with untoothed leaves, from the axils of which the clusters of flower-heads are produced, so that the whole forms a large rounded or cylindrical leafy panicle 3 to 6 in. across. The blossom has little beauty, being of a dull white; but the numerous thistle-like heads of fruit of the female plant, with their silky white pappus, are rather striking.
Native of eastern N. America; introduced in 1683, but not ornamental enough to have ever become widely cultivated. It is hardy at Kew, and is a useful shrub for coast situations.