A slender-stemmed, luxuriantly leafy, deciduous climber; young shoots glabrous. Leaves very variable in shape and size, composed either of three or five stalkless leaflets radiating from the end of a common stalk which is 1⁄2 to 2 in. long. The leaflets are lanceolate or diamond-shaped in general outline, but always deeply and coarsely toothed, and often conspicuously three- or five-lobed, the lobes reaching sometimes to the midrib. The entire leaf is 2 to 5 in. across, the leaflets 1 to 3 in. long, deep glossy green above, pale beneath, and glabrous on both sides except for small tufts of down in the vein-axils beneath. Flowers produced in August and September in numerous forked cymes. Fruits scarcely 1⁄4 in. long, roundish-obovate, dull orange.
Native of China. Of the vines with compound leaves and deeply cut leaflets this is the hardiest and most luxuriant in growth. It can be trained up a tall post, which it will soon cover with a beautiful tangle. There has been some confusion in gardens between this species and A., japonica.
A. japonica (Thunb.) Mak. Paullinia japonica Thunb.; Vitis serjanaefolia (Bunge) K. Koch – This is a native of China and Korea, cultivated in Japan, and quite distinct in foliage from A. aconitifolia. The leaflets are in threes or fives, and in the latter case are arranged pinnately on the common stalk (not all radiating from its ends as in the other). Another distinction is that the rhachis between the pairs of leaflets is winged. Sometimes the lowest pair of leaflets are themselves pinnately divided. In other respects the leaflets are dark green above, pale glossy green beneath, glabrous. Fruit 1⁄4 in. wide, violet-blue. The plant has a tuberous root like a dahlia.