Perennial herbaceous climber with creeping rhizome. The stem is climbing, up to 7 m, faceted, seated hooked spines. Leaves are opposite, entire or 3-5-palchatolopastnye, krupnopilchatye, dark-green, bottom rough. The plant is dioecious, flowers gay. Male flowers are gathered in axillary paniculate inflorescences female – in capitate inflorescences, bract them grow and cover the fruit, nuts, forming a so-called "bumps." Blooms in June-July, the seeds ripen in September.
Found in Europe, the Caucasus, Asia and North America. In Russia, widespread in central and southern regions of the European part, in the Ante and Western Siberia. Widely cultivated and easily entered, so that its natural range is not clear.
Confined to the rich or wet peaty soils of the valleys of the rivers and streams, damp shady places and ravines, is common in willow and alder. Easily propagated vegetatively, perhaps seed reproduction.
It has long been bred on special plantations because of the "bumps" that are used in baking and brewing industry. Medicinal plants – and cones are used in scientific and traditional medicine. Of inflorescences before receiving dyes for fabrics – green, red and brown, as well as paints and inks. Long stems can be a source of durable fiber for sacking and cordage. Young shoots, vitamin C, eat the food in the spring. Ornamental plant suitable for planting vertical planes.