Sparingly branched tree to 30 m high, glabrescent (smooth, shiny). Leaves usually bipinnate (except for some on flowering shoots only pinnate and with 5-9 leaflets), up to 100 cm long, secondary rachises to 12 cm long; petiole circular in cross section; leaflets with branched hairs when young, ovate to elliptic, mostly 5-12 cm long, mostly 3-6.5 cm wide, apex acuminate, base more or less rounded, margins entire; aromatic (smells a bit like celery) when crushed. Flowering parts a terminal panicle, branching 1-3 times, flowers solitary arranged along inflorescence branches. Calyx an undulate rim. Petals purple-black. Fruit globose, 5-6 mm long, purple-black when ripe. Also called Silver Basswood and Black Pencil Cedar. Host plant for larvae of Dark Pencilled-blue Candalides consimilis butterfly.
Photo: Robert Whyte