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A spicily aromatic, deciduous shrub 6 to 12 ft high, forming a rounded bush as much in diameter; young shoots glabrous or slightly downy. Leaves pinnately veined, obovate, 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 21⁄2 in. wide, tapered towards both ends, but more gradually towards the stalk, not toothed, thin, glabrous above, glabrous or slightly downy and glaucous beneath, margins ciliate; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers greenish yellow, small, and not showy; produced in tiny clusters during April from the joints of last year’s naked shoots; the sexes are on separate plants; corolla none; calyx with six lobes. Fruits red, oval, 1⁄3 in. long, juicy.
Native of the eastern United States; introduced in 1683. When crushed the leaf emits a pungent spicy odour too strong to be quite pleasant. This species is perfectly hardy at Kew, where it makes a neat bush of no particular merit or distinction.