Shrubs or trees, often suckering, 10–50 dm, thorny. Twigs with axillary end buds, glabrous. Leaves deciduous; petiole 2–14 mm, usually sparsely hairy on adaxial surface, rarely glabrous or hairy on both surfaces, usually eglandular, sometimes glandular distally, glands 1–2; blade lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, ?usually folded along midribs, often ± falcate?, 1.5–6 × 0.8–2 cm, base cuneate to obtuse, margins crenulate-serrulate, teeth blunt, glandular, ?glands reddish orange, conic?, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrate with hairs along midribs and major veins, adaxial glabrous. Inflorescences 2–4-flowered, umbellate fascicles. Pedicels 3–10 mm, glabrous. Flowers blooming before, sometimes at, leaf emergence; hypanthium campanulate, 1.5–3 mm, usually glabrous, rarely hairy, externally; sepals erect to spreading, ovate, 1–2 mm, margins entire, ?sparsely ciliate?, abaxial surface glabrous, adaxial hairy; petals white, suborbiculate to obovate, 3–6 mm; ovaries glabrous. Drupes red to yellow, ?lightly glaucous?, globose to ellipsoid, 15–20 mm, glabrous; mesocarps fleshy; stones ovoid, ± flattened. 2n = 16.
"Much-branched, often thorny shrub or small tree to 5 m, forming thickets; lvs scarcely developed at anthesis, at maturity trough-shaped, lanceolate to narrowly elliptic or oblanceolate, 3–6 cm, acute or short-acuminate, smooth and shining above, very finely serrulate, the teeth 12–20 per cm, bearing a gland near the sinus; pedicels (3–8 mm), hypanthium, and outer side of the sep smooth or nearly so, the inner side of the sep hairy especially near the base; pet 4–6 mm; fr subglobose, red, not glaucous, 1–1.5 cm thick; stone turgid. Usually in sandy or sterile soil, open woods, thickets, and fence-rows; chiefly from Va. to Fla., w. to Kans. and Tex., but also irregularly to s. N.J., s. O., Ind., Ill., and Neb. Apr."