It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2 m (7 ft) tall and broad. The bark is dark brownish-grey with prominent paler brown lenticels. The leaves are 2–7 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with five lobes; when young in spring, they have a strong resinous scent. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as the leaves emerge, on racemes 3–7 cm long of 5–30 flowers; each flower is 5–10 mm diameter, with five red or pink petals. The fruit is dark purple oval berry 1 cm long, edible but with an insipid taste.