Trees to 20 m, flowering at 2 m. Stems clustered, occasionally decumbent and rooting at nodes, bark corky, forming rectangular plates 0.5–1 cm wide; branchlets green, maroon, or red, appressed-hairy; lenticels maroon swellings. Leaves: petiole 3–20 mm; blade ovate, elliptic, or obovate, 5–12 × 2–7 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex abruptly acuminate, abaxial surface whitish, appressed-hairy, tufts of erect hairs present in axils of secondary veins, adaxial surface dark green, appressed-hairy; secondary veins 5–7 per side, most arising from proximal 1/2. Inflorescences flat-topped, 1–2 cm diam., 15–30-flowered, subtended by 2 pairs of cataphylls; peduncle 10–20 mm; petaloid bracts 4, surrounding and enclosing inflorescence through winter, white or tinged with red and with brown or white callous at apex, obovate to obcordate, 2–6 × 1–4.5 cm, apex rounded or emarginate. Flowers: hypanthium appressed-hairy; sepals 0.5–0.8 mm; petals cream or yellow-green, 3–3.5 mm. Drupes usually red, rarely yellow, drying black, spreading from each other, round in cross section, 13–18 × 6–9 mm; stone ellipsoid, 10–12 × 4–7 mm, smooth. 2n = 44.
"Widely branched small tree (or large shrub) to 10 m, the bark becoming closely and deeply checked; lvs ovate to elliptic or obovate, mostly 6–10 cm and half as wide, abruptly acuminate, pale beneath, strigillose on both sides; bracts 4, white (pink), obcordate, notched at the tip, 3–6 cm; fls yellowish, 20–30 in the cluster; fr red, ellipsoid, 10–15 mm; 2n=22. Woods; Me. to s. Ont., Mich., Ill., Mo., and Okla., s. to Fla. and ne. Mex. May, June, before the lvs are fully grown. (Cynoxylon f.)"