Ninebark is an attractive shrub with wide-spreading, graceful, recurved branches and bark peeling off in conspicuous thin strips.
Leaves are alternate, simple, oval, 2–4 inches long; 3- or 5-lobed, tip pointed, double-toothed edges; green in summer, yellow to pink to bronze in fall.
Bark is brown, peeling into long, thin, papery strips giving it a shaggy appearance, exposing reddish or pale brown inner bark.
Twigs are brown to yellowish, smooth, flexible, bark peeling off in thin strips.
Flowers May–June, in dense, flat-topped clusters at tips of twigs 1–2½ inches wide; each flower small, white, with 5 petals and numerous stamens.
Fruits September–October, in drooping clusters of small, papery, reddish capsules.
Note: Several cultivated varieties have been developed for landscaping purposes. Many of these have strikingly colorful summer foliage ranging from copper to wine to burgundy red to purple.