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Description and Biology

  • Plant: deciduous or semi-evergreen shrubs that grow from 8-20 ft. tall; trunks with multiple stems with long leafy branches; the presence or absence of hairs and type of hairs on stems is helpful in distinguishing species.
  • Leaves: opposite, simple, entire, short-stalked, ranging in length from 1-3 in. and varying in shape from oval, elliptic to oblong.
  • Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers small, white and tubular with four petals and occur in clusters at branch tips; fragrant; late spring to early summer (May to July); length of corolla tube length ranges from 1/10 in. (Chinese) to ¼ in. (border); anthers exceed the corolla lobes (Chinese and California); fruit is small black to blue-black oval to spherical drupe (i.e., a fleshy fruit with 1-several stony seeds inside), mature late summer to fall.
  • Spreads: by birds that consume fruits and excrete seeds undamaged in new locations; can spread locally through root sprouting.



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