An erect shrub, the branches occasionally to 8 feet and arching high or being supported by surrounding trees or shrubs.
Leaves alternate, compound, with 3-5 leaflets; leaflets 2½-4 inches long, egg-shaped, edges coarsely toothed; medium green above, paler below. The end leaflet on primary canes are 3¼-5 inches long, or 2–3 times longer than broad.
Stems consist of canes with broad-based, recurved thorns. The primary (first-year) canes are green to reddish, ribbed, with numerous prickles. Flower canes (second year) are brown.
Flowers April–June, in clusters 4–5 inches long, or 2–4 times as long as broad, rather elongated and cylindrical. Flowers 6–12 and sometimes to 30, showy, ¾ inch across, petals 5, white oval; stamens numerous.
Fruits June–August. Abundant, deep violet to black, glossy juicy, sweet, globe-shaped or cylindrical, about ¾ inch long.