Shrubs or small trees, often with two or more trunks, spreading, rounded crowns, and woody spines.
Leaves alternate, simple, toothed, some species having lobes and others not, the leaf shape varying widely (oval, spatula-shaped, triangular, rounded, sharply pointed, etc).
Bark dark and scaled on the trunk, variously grooved, sometimes smooth, flaking.
Twigs usually gray, often hairy when young, often bearing sharp thorns that are about 1½ inches long, often straight or slightly curved.
Flowers April–June, borne in clusters, each flower with 5 white petals; stamens 10–20 or more. Flowers resemble small apple blossoms.
Fruits September–October, clusters often persisting into winter; like small crabapples; usually rounded and less than ½ inch long; usually red or orange-red, but sometimes yellowish or greenish; fleshy or sometimes dry or mealy; with small seeds within.