Grows in full sun in wet or dry sites but best in well-drained soil. Tolerant of heavy shade. An excellent plant for sceening or to use along ponds and stream banks.
It is a small tree reaching heights of 10–15 m, rarely 20 m, and often has a fluted and crooked trunk. The bark is smooth and greenish-grey, becoming shallowly fissured in all old trees. After flowering, green fruits (drupes) are produced, and they ripen and turn white from August to October. The flowers and fruit are attached to the plant by bright red pedicels. Many species of birds feed on the fruits. Old branches grow slowly, while new stems are fast growing. In the fall the foliage can take on a reddish or purplish color, though it is not overly showy from a distance.