Erect shrub or small tree to 20 m tall, trunk to 40 cm diameter; overwintering buds 0.6-1.3 cm long, second bud scale less than half as long as bud (Harlow 1946). Bark smooth, striped gray.
Leaves much less than half grown, folded, at flowering time, densely white-wooly below when young, mature blade to 10 x 5 cm, slightly wooly below, at least along veins and midrib, egg-shaped, tip long-pointed, base usually lobed, margin sharply, sometimes doubly long-toothed, 6-10 per cm, veins 11-17 per side, stalk hairy; winter bud scaly, second scale less than 1/2 length of bud.
Flowers white, petals narrow to linear 1.0-1.5 cm long, sepals strongly bent back from base, flower stalks to 1.7 cm even in fruit; insect pollinated; inflorescences unbranched, nodding, 3-5 cm long; blooms April-May.
Fruit red-purple, dry, tasteless; 4-10 small seeds; fruits June-Aug; Seed load 4%. Pulp nutrients: water 82%, lipid <1%, protein 3%, CHO 42% White 1989). Fruit eaten by many birds and small mammals, also by bears, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, skunks (Wilson 1993). Seeds eaten by chipmunks (Robinson, 1986), twigs eaten by deer and rabbits.
Wetland status: FAC.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent spontaneously in New York City, but occasionally planted. Frequent to the north and west (NYS, NJ).
Habitat: Moist, undisturbed forests, shade tolerant.
Notes: Attacked by many fungi, including brown rot, Monilinia amelanchieris, coral spot Nectria canker, Nectria cinnabarina, and Juniper broom rust, Gymnosporangium nidus-avis, which causes yellow-orange leaf spots with red borders (Sinclair et al. 1987). Attacked by the spider mite Tetranychus mcdanieli which damages leaves. Woody tissue attacked by the shothole borer Scolytus rugulosus (a bark beetle) as well as other insects and arthropods (Johnson and Lyon 1991).