The ninebarks as a genus are one of the basic tools of Finnish landscaping, used as hedges and along roadsides; they are undemanding, fast-growing, hardy to drought and cold winters. Common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) can grow a little too abundantly in fertile soils, where P. bracteatus might be a better choice. It has slightly toothed leaves, 2-7 cm and three-lobed like European cranberry or Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus).
The lobes are rounder in shape than those of common ninebark. The mature bark of the branches exfoliates in broad strips, which gives added interest during the leafless season. The white flowers, similar to those of the shrub spiraeas (Spireae), appear in midsummer, forming clusters about 5 cm in diameter. The yellow-green seed pods decorate this otherwise unremarkable shrub through to autumn.