Perennial subshrub 15 - 30 cm tall, wide-spreading by rhizomes Stem: upright, green, smooth. Leaves: evergreen, alternate but appearing whorled, crowded near end of stem, shiny dark green, turning yellow in full sun, 5 - 10 cm long, 1.3 - 3.8 cm wide, inversely egg-shaped with a wedge-shaped base, toothed above the middle. Flowers: either male or female, found on the same plant (monoecious), clustered on a 2.5 - 5 cm spike at the shoot tip, white, tiny. Fruit: fleshy with a hard stone in the center (drupe), whitish, 1 - 1.5 cm long.
Similar species: This low-growing subshrub spreads by rhizomes. Its leaves are crowded near the ends of upright stems, shiny dark green, widest and toothed above the center, and smooth and wedge-shaped toward the base. These characteristics make Pachysandra terminalis distinctive from other species in the Chicago Region.
Flowering: April to early May
Habitat and ecology: Pachysandra terminalis was introduced to the Chicago Region as an ornamental groundcover. It rarely escapes from cultivation into disturbed, shaded areas such as floodplain woods or slopes along streams.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: Fruit may require cross-pollination by bees. As this species spreads by rhizomes to form a clonal colony, fruit may not be produced in single colony locations.
Etymology: Pachysandra comes from the Greek words pachys, meaning thick, and aner, meaning stamen. Terminalis means terminal, referring to the flower being borne at the end of the shoot.