Eriocephalus decussatus is a reseeding shrub that branches much. It grows to 1.5 m in height in the Little Karoo, 45 cm in the Karoo. The stem-tips end in sharp, spiny points, earning the plant the Afrikaans common name of doringkapok (thorn snow).
The stubby leaves are small, silvery grey and slightly hairy. They become 2 mm long and 0,5 mm wide, often forming dense clusters spaced along the stems.
The flowerheads lacking ray florets bear small discs of tiny yellow florets surrounded by bracts that are sometimes maroon-tipped as in the photo. The flowerheads become 4 mm in diameter.
The species distribution is widespread: from Namaqualand, the Free State, the Great and Little Karoo to the Eastern Cape inland arid parts. The habitat is plains, lower slopes and ridges in sandy soils. It is often found on overgrazed land and where vegetation has been disturbed. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; Shearing and Van Heerden, 2008; iSpot; www.redlist.sanbi.org).