A deciduous shrub 6 to 12 ft high, or a small tree; young shoots glabrous. Leaves oval or narrowly obovate, tapered at both ends, 2 to 51⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 21⁄4 in. wide, finely toothed, dark green and nearly glabrous above, downy beneath; stalk 1⁄3 to 2⁄3 in. long. Flowers seven to fifteen, in twice or thrice branched cymes 1 to 2 in. long, expanding in July; each flower 1⁄3 in. across, of a dark purple; the parts in fours. Fruit glabrous, four-lobed, crimson on pendent stalks; aril scarlet.
Native of the eastern and central United States; introduced in 1756. In some parts of its native habitat it attains the dimensions of a tree 20 to 25 ft high, with a trunk 1 to 11⁄2 ft in girth. It has no special merit in this country.