Shrubs deciduous or semievergreen, procumbent, usually to 50 cm tall, sometimes taller, with horizontally spreading, distichously much branched stems. Branchlets blackish brown, terete, initially strigose, glabrous when old. Petiole 1–3 mm, pubescent; stipules caducous, brown, subulate or lanceolate, 2–4 mm, puberulous; leaf blade suborbicular or broadly elliptic, rarely obovate, 6–14 × 4–9 mm, midvein raised abaxially and ± impressed adaxially, abaxially sparsely accumbent pubescent, adaxially glabrous, base cuneate, apex usually acute. Inflorescences 1- or 2-flowered. Pedicel short to nearly absent. Flowers 5–7 mm in diam. Hypanthium campanulate, abaxially sparsely pubescent. Sepals triangular, 1–1.5 × 1–2 mm, apex acute. Petals erect, pink, reddish, or whitish, 3–4 × 2–3 mm, base shortly clawed, apex obtuse. Stamens ca. 12, shorter than petals. Ovary pilose apically; styles (2 or)3, free, not exceeding stamens. Fruit bright red, subglobose or ellipsoid, (3–)5–7 mm in diam., pyrenes 3, rarely 2. Fl. May–Jun, fr. Sep–Oct.
Thickets, rocks, rocky slopes, dry mountain areas; 1500--3500 m. Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Nepal].
Plants with somewhat larger leaves, clearly and very strikingly variegated with white, have been described as Cotoneaster horizontalis var. variegatus Osborn (Gard. Chron., ser. 3, 72: 351. 1922). They are grown as ornamentals, particularly in rock gardens.