The plant is a large, deciduous shrub that grows a maximum of 6 m tall with stems of a maximum of 10 cm in diameter. The leaves are oppositely arranged, 5–9 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an entire margin, and with at least some rough pubescence. The flowers are produced in pairs, and commonly several pairs are produced together in clusters; they are 2 cm long, have two lips, begin white and later turn yellow or pale orange in color; they bloom from middle of spring to early summer. The fruit is a bright red to black, semi-translucent berry, 2–6 mm in diameter, that contains numerous small seeds; they ripen in autumn and are eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings. It grows rapidly and prefers shady habitats such as woodland understories, neglected urban areas, and fence rows. It can form very dense thickets.
Amur honeysuckle is cultivated as an ornamental plant for its attractive flowers and as a hedge. Many cultivars have been selected for horticulture, including 'Erubescens' with pink flowers and 'Rem Red' with an erect form.