American witchhazel is a deciduous shrub with light brown bark. The leaves are dark green and shiny above and pale green on the underside. Young leaves can be covered in rusty colored hairs.
The flowers of American witchhazel have 4 yellow ribbon-like petals. The flowers appear in the fall and tend to grow in clusters along the branches. The fruits are hard capsules with a wooly-coating that explode when ripe to release the seeds.