This American spindle species has outward curving branches and, given time, develops into dense thickets. In late spring it flowers dark red, distinguishing this species from most of the spindles, but the flowers are almost hidden by the foliage. The leaves take on handsome red autumn shades, which brighten Mustila’s Etelärinne (Southern Slope). In late autumn the small but numerous aniline-red fruit cases open to reveal the orange arils covering the seeds.
The Native Americans called this shrub the wahoo, and used various parts for medication, for example a bark extract was used to treat so-called women’s troubles and heart problems. The bark contains poisonous digoxin, which is used in treating heart disease in modern medicine.