This native woody shrub is 2-10' tall, branching occasionally. Sometimes it develops into a small tree up to 20' tall, but this is uncommon. The compound leaves are oddly pinnate, consisting of 9-27 leaflets; they alternate along the woody stems. The leaf stalks are hairless and have a whitish bloom. Each leaflet is up to 4" long and 1½" across, lanceolate, and hairless, while the margins are serrated. The upper surface of a leaflet is green, while the the lower surface is white with exposed veins. During the fall, the leaflets become brilliant red. The upper branches produce one or more erect panicles of flowers up to 1½' long and and ½' across. Each flower is about ¼" across, consisting of a yellowish or whitish green corolla that is divided into 5 spreading lobes, and subtended by a star-like green calyx with 5 pointed tips. There are both male and female flowers. The blooming period occurs during early to mid-summer. The flowers are replaced by round drupes during the late summer, which persist through the fall and winter. These drupes are individually about 1/6" long, and covered with short acrid hairs; they are brilliant dark red, gradually turning black during the winter. A single stony seed occurs inside each drupe; it is kidney-shaped and has a smooth surface. The root system consists of a taproot and spreading rhizomes; this shrub often forms vegetative colonies.