Riverbank grape is a vine climbing to 75 feet by means of tendrils.
Leaves are alternate, simple, 4–6 inches long, 3½–5 inches wide, egg-shaped to round, with two short side lobes that are pointed; leaf base rounded with a broad sinus (cleft between two lobes); margins coarsely toothed, lined with fine hairs; upper surface yellowish green, smooth; lower surface paler, hairy on the veins and in the vein axils.
Stems are smooth, slightly ridged; green, gray, or brown; tendrils are opposite leaves. On trunk, bark is reddish brown, shredding in thin strips.
Flowering is in May–June. Flowers are yellowish green, minute, numerous; male and female flowers in separate clusters on same plant; petals 5, dropping early. Clusters 1½–5 inches long, opposite a leaf on new stem growth.
Fruit matures in July–September. Fruit berries, purple to blue with a white, waxy coating, about 3/8 inch thick, sweet, edible, in drooping clusters 2–5 inches long. Stalks hairy.
Similar species: In the past, this species has been separated into three varieties, based on varying degrees of hairiness of leaves and leaf stalks. Most botanists now view this as simply a range of diversity within a single species.
Missouri has eight species of grapes (Vitis) that are either native or naturalized. Also, raccoon grape, peppervine, marine vine, woodbine, and Virginia creeper are less closely related but are in the same family (Vitaceae).