Aptly named, the straight stems of this deciduous shrub were often used by Indigenous peoples to make arrow shafts throughout its native range, found along the eastern half of North America from Canada to Texas. Though tolerant of most soil types, they are primarily found in wet, slightly acidic habitats, including stream banks, marshes, and moist woodlands. Their toothed leaves have a single tip and rounded base which, in late spring, are followed by clusters of off-white flowers.
Despite their visual similarities to common blueberries, smooth arrowwood’s dark blue berries are mildly toxic to humans. They are, however, attractive to numerous songbirds, which consume them after their maturation throughout late summer. A host plant to the caterpillars of spring azure butterflies and hummingbird moths, their leaves also serve as an important food source. As a pollinator, this hardy species attracts red admiral, question mark, and eastern comma butterflies, among others.