An irregularly branched thicket-forming shrub or small spreading tree.
Leaves opposite, simple, 1–5 inches long, ½–2½ inches wide, conspicuously veined, lacking teeth, egg- to lance-shaped; upper surface olive green and rather rough-hairy above; lower surface paler with woolly, dense hairs; leaf stalk slender, rough-hairy, green to reddish. Leaves smell faintly like sour milk.
Bark gray-brown with shallow grooves and short, thin plates.
Twigs green and hairy when young, reddish-brown and smooth with age.
Flowers May–June, yellowish-white, borne in spreading, long-stalked clusters 1–3 inches across; flower stalks 1–2 inches long, hairy; petals 4, spreading, pointed at the tip.
Fruits August–October, globe-shaped, fleshy, 1–2 seeded, white, about ¼ inch wide, the style (small stalk) on tip of fruit persistent.