Shrub, 1(-2) m high, glabrous; stem often dark red, sometimes orange-yellow or pale-brownish; internodes 1-2(-3.5) cm long, sulcate, strict; spines mostly 3-fid, 1-2(-2.5) cm long, orange-yellow to reddish or brownish. Leaves very variable, usually obovate, 1-2.5(-3.5) cm long, 5-15 (-20) mm broad, 5-15(-20) spinose-serrulate at the margins, rarely subentire, green, sometimes subpruinose grey beneath, subsessile shortly petiolate (up to 5 mm). Inflorescence racemose, subumbellate, umbellate-racemose or racemose-subfascicled, rarely compound below, highly variable, usually 5-20 (-25)-flowered, 1.5-3(-4) cm long, obscurely to distinctly peduncled. Flowers 7-12 mm across, yellow to pale-yellow; pedicels (4-)5-12)(-15) mm long, lower often longer than the upper ones, slender rarely stout (and short). Sepals 4-7 mm long, outer smaller, Petals about as long as or slightly shorter than the inner sepals, emarginate to entire, flat to convolute. Stamens about as long as or shorter than the petals, connectives not produced, rarely subconical. Ovules 3-5. Berries oblong, subovoid or subobovoid, rarely oblong-orbicular, 7-10 mm long, 5-6 mm broad, very variable, red, sometimes subpruinose or somewhat dark-coloured when dried, often 3-seeded; seeds c. 3 mm long, oblong-ellipsoid.
A variable species in leaf size, serrations, fruit size, shape, coloration and length of pedicels. Ahrendt (l.c.) recognized 5 varieties; of these var. canescens Ahrendt with leaves grey- pruinose below, seems different; this has been described from Kashmir and Nepal. However, among our plants there are two taxa, quite distinct from each other; they are recognized as subspecies.