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.