On rocky wooded slopes near the Ohio River and rarely inland on gentle wooded slopes. [Deam's var. mollis is] a form with the under surface of the leaves more or less densely pubescent. Specimens in our area show all grades of pubescence.
Usually a tall shrub, occasionally a tree to 10 m; lvs alternate, oblong or elliptic, 6-12 cm, a third (to half) as wide, usually widest above the middle, acute or subacuminate, broadly obtuse to a rounded base, minutely and often remotely serrulate; umbels sessile or on peduncles to 1 cm, appearing after the lvs; pedicels 3-6 mm, evidently puberulent at anthesis, as also the hypanthium; fls (1-)3-8, perfect, 5-merous; pet broadly obcordate, 1-1.3 mm; styles united; fr red, turning black, with 3 stones. Moist woods and alluvial soil, chiefly on the coastal plain, but also inland; se. Va. to s. O. and s. Mo., s. to Fla. and Tex. May, June. Var. caroliniana, chiefly e. of the Ozark region, has the lvs villosulous beneath when young, but soon glabrate. Var. mollis Fernald, with the lvs persistently soft-pubescent beneath, is Ozarkian, extending w. and s. to Tex. and Miss., and e. to s. Ind.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.