Staff vine family (Celastraceae)
Shrub or small tree to (6)10 m tall. Stems greenish, older ones 4-angled, often with light brown corky markings. Leaves 3-8(10) cm long, elliptical, fine-toothed and slightly crinkled, going red in autumn. Quadripartite flowers hermaphrodite, small, pale green, clustered 3-8 to a cyme. Fruit a pink or reddish 4-chambered capsule up to 2 cm in diameter. Seeds white, covered in fleshy orange aril, which is POISONOUS. Flowers May-Jun.
Shade-tolerant, preferring mesic and moist fertile soils, thus growing in oak-lime-hornbeam and riparian forest. Roots have 20% gutta-percha content. HIGHLY POISONOUS, especially seeds.
Descriptions devised by the team at the Independent Department of Forest Botany, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, i.e. L. Witkowska-Żuk, K. Marciszewska, W. Ciurzycki, A. Obidziński and P. Zaniewski.