The bark of Dichrostachys cinerea, the sickle-bush, becomes rough and often fissured on lower branches of older trees. The bark colour varies from yellow, grey-brown to quite dark. Young branches are smooth and pale green. Stems do not reach great thickness, rather branch and intertwine into convoluted, bushy shapes.
The spines of this species are not modified stipules at leaf bases as commonly found on African thorn trees, thus unlike the "thorns" of thorn trees. They are hardened, dwarf spur-branches that develop sharp unyielding tips. This is why they don’t grow in matched pairs on branches and sometimes have leaves growing on them (Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.plantzafrica.com).