An evergreen shrub or small tree with leaves that are simple, alternate, leathery, and shiny dark green. Flowers are small and greenish white. The plants whose new leaves are red have white fruit that changes to purple when ripe. The shrubs whose new leaves are green have green fruit turning to yellow with a pink blush when ripe.
Wildlife – Many animals, including foxes, raccoons, and probably birds, eat the fruits and plant them with their droppings.
Indians considered this plant as a source of food, arrows, and medicine. The Seminoles used this plant to treat gossips through a “cleansing ritual.” The seeds may be strung on sticks and burned like candles. Leaves and fruits yield a black dye. In many areas, a tea of the bark and roots is used to halt dysentery and as a general tonic.