A shrub or small tree with stiff, spreading branches forming an irregular crown near the top.
Leaves opposite, simple, 1½–3 inches long, elliptical, margin finely toothed, pointing inward or upward, upper surface dull green and not shiny; lower surface paler and smooth; leaf stalk green to red, slender, not winged, broadly grooved.
Bark dark gray to brown, furrowed into rectangular plates.
Twigs slender, rigid, with short lateral spurs.
Flowers April–May, numerous, small, white, in flattened, round-topped clusters 2–4 inches wide.
Fruits September–October, ½ inch long, elliptical, blue-black berry with a whitish coating; on long red stalks; flesh thin and dry but edible and sweet; seed solitary, oval, flat, in a hard covering that is grooved on one side.