It is a deciduous shrub growing to 4 m (13 ft) tall. The bark is gray and rough and has a scaly texture. The stems arch and are very dense, and the twigs are a reddish-brown color. The leaves are opposite, three-lobed, 6–12 cm (2+1⁄4–4+3⁄4 in) long and 5–10 cm (2–4 in) broad, with a rounded base and serrated margins; they are superficially similar to many maple leaves, most easily distinguished by their somewhat wrinkled surface with impressed leaf venation. The leaf buds are green. The bud scales are valvate. The flowers are white, produced in corymbs up to 13 cm (5 in) in diameter at the top of the stems; each corymb comprises a ring of outer sterile flowers 2–2.5 cm (3⁄4–1 in) diameter with conspicuous petals, surrounding a center of small (5 mm, 0.20 in), fertile flowers; the flowers are pollinated by insects. The fruit is an oblong red drupe 15 mm (0.59 in) long and 12 mm (0.47 in) broad, containing a single flat, white seed. Plants begin to produce fruit at approximately five years of age; when animals, including birds, eat the fruits, they deposit the seeds in another location in their droppings.