Medium to tall shrub 0.5-3 m tall, spreading by rhizomes and often thicket-forming; stems stout to spindly, erect to arching, with a pair of large prickles (thorns) at each node, usually lacking internodal prickles; mature stems blackish.
Alternate, deciduous, odd-pinnately compound, the leaf-stalk and axis glandular-hairy or short-hairy; leaflets 5 or 7 (9), elliptic to egg-shaped, 1-7 cm long, coarsely single- or double-toothed, somewhat glandular-short-hairy beneath; stipules usually glandular-blunt-toothed.
Inflorescence of usually single, sometimes 2 or 3, stalked flowers on lateral branchlets; corollas pink, saucer-shaped, large (4-8 cm across), the petals 5, (2) 2.5-4 cm long; calyces smooth or glandular-bristly, 5-lobed, the lobes lanceolate, 1.5-4 cm long, long-tapering and narrowing then flaring below the tip, persistent; ovaries superior but enclosed in the urn-shaped floral tube (hypanthium); stamens numerous.
Achenes, numerous, stiffly long-hairy on one side, enclosed by the fleshy hypanthium, which ripens into a purplish-red, globe- to pear-shaped hip 1-2 cm long.
Two varieties occur in BC:
1. Leaflets doubly saw-toothed, the teeth gland-tipped; infrastipular prickles becoming much enlarged and flattened toward base; plants mostly from west of Coast-Cascade Mountains................. var. nutkana
1. Leaflets singly saw-toothed, the teeth not gland-tiped; prickles rarely enlarged and flattened; plants mostly from east of Coast-Cascade Mountains..................var. hispida Fern.