IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native woody shrub forms canes that are initially erect, but often bend downward to re-root in the ground. These canes actively grow and form leaves during the first year, and develop fruits in the form of drupes during the second year, afterwhich they die down. The canes are about 3-6' tall; they are green where there is new growth at the tips, otherwise they are brown or reddish brown with stout prickles that are straight or somewhat curved. The alternate leaves are usually trifoliate or palmately compound; they have long petioles. The leaflets are up to 4" long and 3" across; they are up to twice as long as wide. A typical leaflet is usually ovate with coarse, doubly serrate margins; it may have a few scattered white hairs on the upper surface, while the lower surface is light green and pubescent.  The canes develop racemes with about 12 white flowers; these racemes are much longer than they are wide. There are conspicuous glandular-tipped hairs on the peduncles and pedicels of the inflorescence. A flower has 5 white petals and 5 green sepals with pointed tips; this flower is about ¾-1" across. The petals are longer than the sepals, rather rounded, and often wrinkly. In the center of each flower, are numerous stamens with yellow anthers surrounding a green reproductive structure with a prickly appearance. The flowers bloom during late spring or early summer for a month; there is little or no floral fragrance. The drupes develop later in the summer; they are about ¾" long and 1/3" across, although their size varies with moisture levels. The drupes are initially white or green, but eventually turn red, finally becoming almost black. They are seedy and have a sweet flavor when fully ripened. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant often forms loose colonies vegetatively.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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