A deciduous, climbing shrub up to 20 ft high; young stems ribbed and almost without down. Leaves nearly always consisting of three leaflets (rarely five), which are ovate, rounded or heart-shaped at the base, coarsely and unequally toothed, borne on a common stalk 11⁄2 to 3 in. long; each leaflet on its own stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, slightly downy when young. Flowers dull white, 1 to 11⁄4 in. across, produced in axillary panicles 3 to 6 in. long in August and September; sepals four, oblong, thin. Seed-vessels with silky, feathered styles, forming silvery heads about 21⁄2 in. across.
Native of eastern N. America; introduced in 1767. It is but little grown outside botanic gardens, being inferior in vigour to our native species, and not so attractive as many others. It is allied most closely to C. vitalba, but is distinguished by its three-foliolate instead of five-foliolate leaves. Plants, too, are frequently unisexual.