A climbing or sprawling, semi-evergreen vine that often retains its leaves into winter.
Leaves opposite, simple, ovate, 1 1/2 to 3 1/4 inches long. Leaves produced in spring often highly lobed; those produced in summer unlobed. None of the leaves are joined at the base.
Stems flexible, hairy, pale reddish-brown, shredding to reveal straw-colored bark beneath. Woody stems with yellowish-brown bark, shredding in long papery strips.
Flowers May–June, in pairs in the leaf axils. Flowers white or pink and turning yellow with age, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, tubular with two lips: upper lip with 4 lobes, lower lip with 1 lobe.
Fruits September–October. Berries black, glossy, smooth, pulpy, round, about 1/4 inch long, with 2-3 seeds. Berries single or paired on stalks from leaf axils.