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A shrub to about 10 ft high, sometimes reduced to a low, creeping shrublet; branchlets prominently and densely lenticellate; winter-buds narrow-ovoid, glabrous and glossy outside, the inner scales ciliate. Leaves with five to six pairs of leaflets (fewer in some Russian forms). Leaflets 2 to 31⁄2 in. long, up to 1 in. wide, broadly to narrowly lanceolate, tapered to an acute apex, glabrous except for hairs at their edge and sometimes on the midrib beneath, coarsely toothed. Inflorescence few-flowered, sparsely brown-hairy or glabrous. Flowers large, to about 9⁄16 in. wide, white or pink-tinged. Styles mostly three. Fruits globose, about 1⁄2 in. wide, red, with a sweet flesh, crowned with persistent, erect, leathery calyx-lobes.
Native of the Aleutians, thence west and south through Kamchatka and the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, Anadir, Sakhalin, the Kuriles to central Japan. It is absent from North America proper, but its name has been applied to many American species, especially to S. decora and S. scopulina. The true species is not known to be in cultivation in Britain, and is unlikely to be of much ornamental value, even if it thrives, as species from the region it inhabits rarely do in our climate. Among species of the section Sorbus (Aucuparia) it is apparently unique in having leathery and erect calyx-lobes in the fruiting state.