A climbing, deciduous shrub ascending the trunks of trees in the wild; stems round, slightly downy when young, forming aerial roots like an ivy; buds hairy. Leaves opposite, oval or ovate, tapering at both ends, short-pointed, 3 to 5 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide, quite glabrous on both surfaces, or slightly hairy beneath when young, shallowly toothed towards the apex, often entire; stalk 1 to 2 in. long. Flowers white, produced in June and July in an erect terminal corymb 2 to 3 in. long and wide. The individual flower is small, 1⁄4 in. across, with seven to ten narrow oblong petals, alternating with a similar number of calyx teeth; stamens twenty to thirty. Fruit urn-shaped, 1⁄3 in. long, the lower part prettily striped with numerous whitish ridges, upper part glabrous, tapering.
Native of the south-eastern United States; introduced in 1785, but an uncommon plant in gardens owing to its tenderness. It thrives in the south-western counties of England and Ireland, but elsewhere should be grown on a sheltered wall. It can be increased by cuttings of firm shoots. Its nearest allies are the climbing hydrangeas and schizophragmas, from which it is quite distinct in the always perfect flowers and more numerous petals and stamens.