Vine maple is a shrub or small understory tree to 7 m tall. The young stems are often pale green or red on top and gree on the underside; they become dull brown with age. The opposite leaves are palmately lobed with 7-9 lobes, toothed, hairy on the lower surface and along the veins on the upper surface, and generally turn bright red in the fall. The flowers are small (6-9 mm), white, and borne in small clusters at the ends of shoots. The fruits are double samaras with the two wings in almost a straight line. Vine maple is common in moist to wet forests at low to middle elevations.