A deciduous shrub to about 15 ft high. Young shoots downy at first, later glabrous. Leaves mostly two-ranked, obovate, oblanceolate to elliptic, about 11⁄4 to 31⁄4 in. long, 3⁄5 to 14⁄5 in. wide, acute or blunt at the apex, dull green above, downy or woolly beneath when young but becoming glabrous; leaf-stalks 1⁄5 to 2⁄5 in. long, downy at first. Flowers white, borne numerously in cymose clusters 1 to 2 in. across at the end of short axillary branchlets; inflorescence densely hairy in all its parts, but becoming partly glabrous. Fruit roundish, dark purplish brown to almost black, about 1⁄4 in. across.
Native of the Himalaya; introduced in 1828. C. affinis is allied to C. frigidus, but well distinguished by the colour of the fruits. It is rarer in cultivation than the following variety:
var. bacillaris (Lindl.) Schneid. C. bacillaris Lindl. – A deciduous shrub to 15 ft high. Branches arching and often pendulous towards the end, the whole forming a wide-spreading mass more in diameter than in height. Botanically it differs from the type only in the less hairy inflorescence and leaf-undersides. The leaves are very variable in shape. Native of the Himalaya up to 10,000 ft. This is one of the most useful of cotoneasters, and one of the most graceful. It has been largely planted on the margins of the islands of the lake at Kew, where the branches overhang the water and have the elegance of a willow, with the added attractions of abundant flowers and fruits. As a flowering shrub, this is one of the prettiest in the genus, but its fruits have not the bright colour that gives to many cotoneasters their greatest charm. The wood is strong and elastic, and is valued in its native regions for making walking-sticks and spear-shafts.