Stem: Woody vines, trailing or climbing to 45 feet or more by means of tendrils, glabrous or pubescent; stems of mature plants several inches in diameter; young branches green to dull reddish brown.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, thin, heart- to egg-shaped, 3-6 inches long, about as wide, some deeply 3-7 lobed, lobes with tapering pointed tips, mostly glabrous, shiny green above, green with pubescence along veins below; margins coarsely toothed.


Inflorescence: Compact, pyramidal panicles, 1½-5 inches long, opposite the leaves.
Flower: Inconspicuous, greenish, fragrant; calyces short; petals 5, attached together at tips, separate from one another at bases; stamens 5.
Fruit: Berries, spherical, ¼-½ inch in diameter, waxy, purplish-black, appearing from July-September; seeds 2-4, about 1/5 inch long, rounded to short beak, reddish brown.