Inkweed is a short lived perennial, woody-based, hairless herb to 2 m high and sometimes tinged with red. The oval leaves are 4-25 cm long. It has several spikes of small greenish white flowers. The flowers have 5 petal-like sepals each 2.5-4 mm long. There are 7-10 stamens and 8 styles. The fruits are reddish black succulent berries and produce red juice (ink) when ripe and crushed. It has a somewhat tuberous taproot and long thick lateral roots.