Tinnea barbata is a shrub with delicate blue-purple flowers dangling from erect branches. The leaves are ovate, tapering towards the tips. They are hairy with the veins markedly indented on the upper surface, prominent and whitish velvety below. They are opposite and have petioles. The bark is light grey-brown on the much branched stems that become woody as they age.
The flowers are pale to deep blue or mauve with yellow stamens. They are scattered singly over the shrub. There is a bulbous calyx around the flower base that later also envelops the fruit, a winged, bladder-like nutlet (www.plantzafrica.com).