Sp. Pl. 1: 197. 1753.
Shrubs 2–3.5 m. Stems erect or arching, not rooting at nodes; young branches 4-angled, not corky winged. Leaves deciduous; petiole 1–3 mm; blade oval to lanceolate, 3–10 × 0.8–3 cm, base cuneate, obtuse, to rounded, margins crenate-serrate, apex acute or acuminate. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, 1–3-flowered. Flowers: sepals 5; petals 5, pale green, often suffused with purple, round, 2–3 mm diam.; stamens 5; ovary spiny. Capsules red or pink to purple, subglobose, 11–13 mm diam., unlobed or very shallowly 4–5-lobed, lobes clearly connate, surface spiny. Seeds subglobose, 4.5–5.5 mm; aril red. 2n = 64.
Phenology: Flowering spring–summer; fruiting late summer–early winter.
Habitat: Rich woods, bluffs, flood plains, along streams, hammocks, sandy banks.
Elevation: 0–400 m.
Ala., Ark., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Md., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Va., W.Va.