This native perennial wildflower is 3-7' tall. The stems are light green and hairless, while the large compound leaves are bipinnate or tripinnate with 10 or more leaflets. Usually 3 or 5 leaflets are grouped together in the ultimate partitions of each compound leaf. Individual leaflets are up to 4' long and 3' across; they are medium green, glabrous, and lanceolate to broadly ovate in shape. The margins of these leaflets are coarsely toothed; the terminal leaflets are often shallowly to deeply cleft. Each plant produces one or more panicles of racemes about 1-3' long. These panicles are very narrow and produce only a few secondary racemes around the central raceme. The racemes are narrowly cylindrical in shape and erect; they are densely covered with flowers, buds, and fruits (follicles) in varying stages of development (buds on top, flowers in the middle, and fruits below). Individual flowers span about 2/3' across and they are completely white, consisting of about 24 stamens, a single pistil, and insignificant sepals that drop early. The slender stamens are long and conspicuous, while the pistil has a short curved tip. Each flower has a short pedicel. The blooming period occurs during early to middle summer and lasts about 1½ months. The flowers have an odd unpleasant scent. Each flower is replaced by a small follicle about 1/3' long; this follicle has a beak that is very short and usually curved. Each follicle splits open along one side to release several seeds; these seeds are fairly smooth (not conspicuously scaly). The root system is rhizomatous and fibrous.