A unisexual, deciduous, privet-like shrub 6 to 12 ft high, of lax, wide-spreading habit; young shoots downy. Leaves opposite or nearly so, arranged in two rows, lance-shaped or approaching ovate, rounded or broadly wedge-shaped at the base, long and taper-pointed; 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 7⁄8 in. wide; downy on the midrib and margins. Flowers small, greenish, terminal on young shoots; the males 1⁄/6 in. across, in a small umbel; the females solitary, much larger than the males, 1⁄2 in. long, with four spreading, narrowly lanceolate bracts. Nuts hard, one-seeded, oblong, 3⁄4 in. long, furrowed.
Native of N. Carolina and Tennessee; discovered by Nuttall in 1816; introduced to Kew in 1897. Naturally it is a parasite on the roots of other trees, mostly frequently Tsuga canadensis. Very little success has been attained in its cultivation here, although the seeds that are occasionally offered by nurserymen in the south-eastern United States germinate freely. A young plant parasitic on Tsuga lived for ten years at Kew, but usually there is a difficulty in getting it thoroughly attached to a host plant. Those who take an interest in remarkable plants of this kind may like to experiment with it. The seeds may be sown in pots under glass, and after germination planted near a host plant. They can live for some time on their own stored-up food. Other methods may be adopted, such as sowing seeds near the roots of Tsuga out-of-doors, protecting by a handlight at first. Perhaps this shrub needs more sun than it gets here, but is capable of withstanding intense frost. I remember a vigorous bush, 8 or 10 ft high, in the botanic garden of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., where the winter cold is much more intense than we experience here.