Shrubs or small trees, rarely to 7 m tall. Young branches greenish, sparsely puberulent; older branches brownish, with distinct transversely oriented lenticels. Petiole 1-1.9 cm, puberulent, ± glabrescent; leaf blade abaxially pale green, adaxially green, broadly elliptic or oblong, rarely obovate, 4-11 × 2.5-6 cm, papery, abaxially sparsely puberulent on midvein, adaxially glabrous, lateral veins 6-10 pairs, prominent on both surfaces, base broadly cuneate or subrounded, margin entire, apex shortly acuminate or rounded, rarely acute. Flowers solitary or 2-4-fascicled at leaf axils, glabrous. Pedicels 5-10 mm. Sepals keeled and slightly rostrate adaxially. Petals orbicular, apex slightly emarginate. Disk thin, lining calyx tube. Ovary globose, 2- or 3-loculed; style undivided; stigma slightly 2- or 3-lobed. Drupe red, turning purple-black at maturity, 6-8 mm in diam., with 2 or 3 lenticular stones; fruiting pedicel 7-10 mm. Fl. Apr-Jul, fr. Jun-Sep. 2n = 20.
"Shrub to 7 m; lvs all or mostly alternate, oblong or usually obovate-oblong, 5–8 cm, commonly more than half as wide, acute to abruptly short-acuminate, entire or with a few marginal glands near the tip; umbels sessile, with 2–8 fls, appearing after the lvs; pedicels glabrous or subglabrous, mostly unequal, 3–10 mm; fls perfect, 5-merous; pet broadly obovate, scarcely clawed, cleft at the tip, 1–1.4 mm; styles united; fr red, turning nearly black, with 2–3 stones; 2n=20–26. Native of Eurasia, escaped from cult. from Que. and N.S. to N.J., Ind., and Ky., especially in wet soil. May, June. (Frangula alnus)"