Small clusters of green-white hermaphrodite flowers with 5 petals and sepals. Hairy buds. Berries are green turning reddish, black when ripe. Alternate leaves, un-toothed, colouring yellow or red in autumn. Usually 6+ pairs lateral veins. Erect thornless branches.
Avoids permanently waterlogged or very dry ground. Usually lowland, grows in damp woods, scrubs, fens, heaths. Found as a rare native in West and central Ireland. Sometimes introduced in gardens and as a component of hedges.