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A tree 13 to 30 ft (occasionally 50 ft) high in the wild, but a robust shrub in this country 5 to 10 ft high; young shoots glabrous. Leaves 6 to 10 in. long, glabrous; the leaflets usually five or seven, occasionally nine, ovate or oval, 2 to 6 in. long, 1⁄2 to 2 in. wide. Flowers yellowish white, produced during June in flat umbels up to 6 or 7 in. wide. Berries black, but covered densely with a pale blue bloom.
Native of western N. America. Its two most striking characteristics are its vigorous growth, which makes it even more tree-like in California than S. nigra is in Europe, its trunk being sometimes 18 in. in diameter; and the intensely glaucous hue of its berries.