Found this in the woods the other day. Would like positive ID. Thank you! Allison
SOLVED: Western NC - Is this Cornus Rugosa?
The leaves appear to be too rounded for any Cornus species, even C. rugosa. Another inconsistent feature is the location of the fruit - Cornus spp. generally bear the fruit at the ends of the branches. (Also note that C. rugosa's natural range does not extend south of PA at least from what I could find.)
There are some Smilax spp. with that general leaf shape and fruit habit but Smilax have alternate leaves and tendrils, neither of which are evident in your plant.
So, I don't know what it is, only maybe what it isn't. :-/
Sure seems to be a shrubby Dogwood species (Cornus sp.).
The bluish fruit fit with Cornus amomum, and likely some other similar related Dogwood species. Tom might not have recognized from this singular photo that the branch/stem is turned around for the photographer. It certainly appears to be a terminal cluster of fruit to me.
Take more pictures! A shot of the whole plant is always a good starting point. Then, provide closer and closer images of all the pertinent parts.
You can post hundreds of images here - 5 at a time - until the identification is made.
Thank you, irishtree, for the additional images. These prove why you should never just take - and only post - one picture.
This, to me, is undoubtedly a shrubby Dogwood species. Cornus amomum is one species that will have bluish fruit; there are others more obscure. I don't know all the species likely to be found in NC, but they mostly all behave similarly.
Native shrubby dogwoods are all good species for the fauna of your area, from supporting pollinator insects with copious flowers, to providing forage for leaf-eating insects and caterpillars - which birds use to feed their young. Birds also harvest the ripened fruit and help make more plants by widely depositing the seeds with their droppings.