Family, Laurel. Color, greenish yellow. Leaves, alternate, 2 to 5 inches long, broad above the middle, pointed at apex, tapering to the base, short-petioled, entire, the midrib often dividing the leaf unequally, revolute and softly hairy along the margin, pale beneath, spicy and aromatic in odor and taste. Stamens and pistils in different flowers. Calyx of 6 sepals, greenish yellow, petal-like. Corolla, none. Sterile blossoms, with 9 stamens in 2 or 3 rows, all with large, 2-celled anthers, the inner row of filaments glandular at base. The pistillate flowers have a roundish ovary, surrounded by many rudimentary stamens. Flowers, peduncled, 3 to 6 in clusters, several such clusters forming a compound umbel which is surrounded by a 4-leaved involucre. Fruit, at first retaining the style in a little pit at its apex, dropping this when ripe, and becoming a large, red, oval drupe.
A graceful, tall bush, 4 to 12 feet high, smooth-stemmed, with brittle branches. The yellow flowers appear before the leaves. Found in moist woods from New England to Michigan and southward. To this Family the aromatic sassafras tree belongs, sometimes a shrub, with similar flowers.