Shrub to 4 m tall, to 3 m wide, usually taller than wide Leaves: alternate, stalked, dull green above, lighter green beneath, 2 - 5 cm long, elliptic- to oblong-egg-shaped with a pointed tip and broad wedge-shaped base, both surfaces lightly hairy when young, becoming hairless above but retaining hair (especially along veins) beneath. Flowers: borne in a two- to five-flowered and nearly flat-topped cluster (cyme), pinkish, the calyx tube hairy and triangular-lobed. Fruit: berry-like (pome), black, 1 cm long, elliptic, containing two small nuts. Twigs: reddish brown to light brown, hairy when young, peeling like onion skin on older branches. Branches are upright to spreading. Buds: brown to gray, small, with two outer scales exposing the hairy inside.
Similar species: Cotoneaster multiflora differs by having arching branches, bluish green leaves that are hairless at maturity, showier inflorescences with up to twelve or more flowers, white flowers with a hairless calyx, and red fruit.
Flowering: late May to mid June
Habitat and ecology: This species was introduced from China and rarely escapes from cultivation. In the Chicago Region, one population was found on a dune crest.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Cotoneaster comes from the Latin words cotoneum, meaning quince, and instar, meaning likeness, referring to the resemblance of some cotoneaster leaves to those of quince. Acutifolius refers to the quick tapering of the leaf tips into sharp points.