Hippocrepis emerus reaches on average 50–150 centimetres (20–59 in) of height, with a maximum of 200 centimetres (79 in). The plant has a lignified stem with green branches bearing five to nine leaflets. These leaves are glossy, obovate, and imparipinnate, with their maximum width being above the middle and often larger extremities. The pale yellow flowers are arranged in groups of 1 to 5, and measure 14–20 millimetres (0.55–0.79 in) long. The petals are "nailed", meaning they have a long handle ("nail") and a "plate". The nails of the petals are two to three times longer than the calyx. These plants are hermaphroditic and entomophilous, and their flowering period extends from April through July. Their legumes (seed pods) are oblong-cylindrical and 5–11 centimetres (2.0–4.3 in) long, with three to twelve segments.