Compact shrub to crooked tree to 13 m. Bark grey to brownish black, corky, finely fissured to platy. Leaves alternate or in pseudowhorls at end of branches, new growth pink. The leaf blades have 5-7 more or less longitudinal veins, upper surface is glossy and dark green, lower surface paler, petiole to 6 mm long, sometimes sparsely hairy. Flowers solitary or clustered in terminal spikes. Fruit 6-8 mm, ribbed when dry, purple to black, ripening June to September.

Photo: Robert Whyte