Barbados gooseberry is an erect, spiny woody shrub when young, climbing and vine-like, with stems up to 10 metres long that may shroud a large tree. The plant is a cactus, it is not easily recognized as such since it is not succulent and has leaves.
The plant is seldom found truly wild but is frequently grown as an ornamental or occasionally for its fruits.
The leaves are valued for their softening and soothing nature and are applied on inflammations and tumours. The white or yellowish flowers are borne in clusters in the leaf forks or at the tips of the branches