General - erect shrub, 0.5-1 m tall; often forms thickets from suckers; many branches, slender, with reddish brown, shreddy bark.
Leaves - opposite, thin, oval, usually 2-4 cm long, may be slightly lobed on young stems.
Flowers - in small, dense, clusters at branch tips (or in axils of upper leaves); pink to white, bell-shaped, 4-7 mm long, hairy within, stamens and non-hairy style do not protrude fromflower, appearing June to July.
Fruit - white, waxy, oval to round, berry-like drupes, about 6 mm long (sometimes to 12 mm), with 2 seeds; lasts hrough winter; inedible, considered poisonous by many.
Open woods, thickets, and valley slopes; most abundant in dry habitats but also on moist sites; widespread cross southern boreal forest and parkland, north and west to southern N.W.T. and Alaska's panhandle.
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