Bitterbrush is a medium-sized native florida tree or shrub reaching a height of 36 feet or more. It usually has a single trunk with relatively few branches and an open oval crown; the bark is smooth, gray with a brown inner bark. Leaves are alternate, compound, 4 - 12 inches long, with 5 - 9 leaflets, which are elliptic to ovate, papery, with short stalks, smooth edges and long points and 2 - 4 inches long. Young leaves have a reddish hue. Male and female flowers are borne on different plants, in the form of branched terminal clusters of tiny blooms, 5-parted, color variable but commonly green with a reddish tinge. Flowers attract insect pollinators. Fruits are oblong to obovoid, scarlet ripening to nearly black, 3/8 - 5/8 inch long, containing 1 - 3 brown seeds. Birds eat the fruits. Seeds are used for propagation. The bark is used to make traditional medicine. The tree can be grown in sandy or limestone soils with good drainage and a surface layer of organic matter. Periodic pruning is suggested to maintain an attractive tree or shrub form. In landscaping, bitterbrush has applications because of its interested foliage and colorful fruits. It can be used as an accent or specimen plant and is ideal for low light sites, in a planter, and as a component of a natural plant garden. Wild populations of bitterbrush in florida are threatened.