Comprehensive Description

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This native woody shrub is 2-6' tall, branching occasionally. The bark of the trunk and larger branches is gray and slightly rough, while the bark of the small branches and twigs is gray or gray-brown and more smooth. Opposite pairs of leaves develop from new growth. These leaves are up to 5" long and 4" across; they are usually 3-lobed (less often unlobed), coarsely dentate, and approximately oval in shape. The lobes of the leaves have pointed tips, while the leaf bases are cordate or rounded. The upper leaf surface is medium green and hairless, while the lower surface is pale green and pubescent. The leaf petioles are pale green and pubescent. At the base of each petiole, there is usually a pair of small linear stipules, which may wither away with age. The flat-headed panicles (or compound cymes) of flowers develop from young branches. Individual panicles span about 1½–3" across. Individual flowers are about ¼" across, consisting of a white corolla with 5 petaloid lobes, a short green calyx with 5 small teeth, 5 strongly exerted stamens, and a central pistil. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 3 weeks. The flowers are replaced by ovoid-globoid berries about ¼" long that become blue-black at maturity. Each berry contains a single seed (or stone). The root system is woody and branching. During the fall, the leaves can assume different colors, including pink, magenta, red, or orange.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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