An aromatic shrub from six to fifteen feet high. Leaves. - Oblong, pale underneath. Flowers. - Appearing before the leaves in March or April, honey-yellow, borne in clusters which are composed of smaller clusters, surrounded by an involucre of four early falling scales. Fruit. - Red, berrylike, somewhat pear-shaped.
These are among the very earliest blossoms to be found in the moist woods of spring. During the Revolution the powdered berries were used as a substitute for allspice; while at the time of the Rebellion the leaves served as a substitute for tea.