This native perennial plant is 1-2½' tall and unbranched. The central stem is stout, smooth, and zigzags slightly. It usually reclines to the side somewhat, rather than being held stiffly erect with respect to the ground. The alternate leaves are narrowly ovate, with parallel veins and smooth margins. They are up to 6" long and 2" across, and are sessile to the central stem, or have short petioles. The undersides of the leaves may be slightly pubescent. The central stem terminates in a single inflorescence consisting of small white flowers. This inflorescence is a narrow raceme (almost spike-like) about 1-4" long. Each flower has 6 narrow tepals, 6 stamens with yellow anthers, and a central pistil that is shaped like a vase with a long, narrow neck. When fully open, each star-like flower is about 1/3" across. The blooming period occurs during late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. There is a mild floral fragrance. Each flower is replaced by a small berry about ¼" across. The berries are initially green with purple or black stripes, but later become bright red. The root system consists of stout rhizomes, which form vegetative colonies readily.