IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native woody plant is a shrub or small tree up to 20' tall with ascending to spreading branches. A large specimen has a trunk with grey bark. This bark is covered with rough flattened scales that are taller than wide. The thin grey bark of branches is often covered with scattered small bumps. Young branchlets and twigs are reddish brown and pubescent. The opposite leaves are up to 5" long and 2" across; they are ovate and smooth along their margins. The upper surface of each leaf is green, rough-textured, and sparingly covered with fine appressed hairs; there are 3-5 pairs of lateral veins that curve toward the outer margins of the leaf. The lower surface of each leaf is whitish green and densely short-pubescent (see photo). At the base of each leaf, there is a slender petiole up to 1" long. Cymes of white flowers develop from the axils of the leaves. Each cyme is about 2-4" across and either gently rounded or flattened at the top. Each white flower is about ¼" across; it has 4 lanceolate petals, 4 stamens, and a pistil with a single style. The blooming period occurs during the late spring or early summer for about 2-3 weeks. The flowers are replaced by white fleshy drupes, which ripen during the late summer or early fall. At this time, the peduncle and pedicels of the corymb become bright scarlet. Each drupe is about ¼" across and globoid in shape; it contains a single stone. The root system normally consists of a woody branching taproot. However, if this woody plant is subjected to disturbance, it may develop suckers or underground runners that send up vegetative shoots. These vegetative shoots can develop into a colony of multistemmed shrubs.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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