Leaves, broader than the preceding, finely serrate near the middle, entire near the apex and base, bright green above, smooth and whitish below, with petioles and conspicuous stipules, at least on the younger leaves, partly heart - shape, as long as the petioles. Catkins, sessile, coming before the leaves in early spring, soft, hairy, glossy, the pistillate 2 to 3 inches long. Bracts on the catkins dark red, brown, or even black.

A shrub about 15 feet high, variable in form, common on banks of rivers and streams and in low meadows from Maine to Delaware.