A deciduous, thicket forming, shrub growing 3 to 9 feet. The bark a deep red turning gray brown with a rough sandpaper like texture and horizontal branches at the base. Foliage is green in summer, and in the fall turns to a reddish purple. The cream-white flowers appear in cymes in the spring producing dull white drupes in July to September. Prefers full sun with an evenly moist soil, and common along stream banks and swamps. The fibrous root system holds soil well for use as a bank cover, and grows faster vertical than horizontal. Common thought most of the United States except in the southeast.