This is a shrub or climbing plant with a warty trunk up to 8 meters tall when growing erect. It may take a shorter, wider form, becoming globular in shape and over 2 meters wide. It is usually succulent and it has thorns up to 8 centimeters long. The alternately arranged leaves are entire and triangular in shape or divided into 3 lobes. The blade is no more than 7 millimeters long.
There is one gland near the base. The greenish flowers are solitary or borne in cymes of up to 5 in the leaf axils. The species is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. The male flower is up to 2 centimeters long with 5 stamens, and the female flower is about one centimeter long with three styles. The fruit is a green, leathery, rounded or oval capsule up to 3 centimeters long.