Passerina paleacea is an ericoid shrub or shrublet of about 30 cm, occasionally reaching 1 m. It has small oblong leaves ascending in four ranks up the stems or pressed against it. The flowers are small and green to yellow, growing in short and dense spikes near stem tips and turning brown as they age. The flower tube is about 2 mm in length, comprised of four joined sepals and no petals. The stamens protrude. Flowering time is late winter to midspring.
The plant has a coastal distribution from Saldanha to Agulhas. It is found on sandy flats and lower slopes in fynbos and scrub. This specimen was seen near the Vermont coast (Privett and Lutzeyer, 2010; Bond and Goldblatt, 1984).