This Pretoria shrub has the growth habit of Ehretia rigida subsp. nervifolia, the only subspecies of E. rigida occurring in Gauteng and the north of the country. There are two more occurring further south.
Usually deciduous, it is a rigid, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree reaching heights from 2 m to 6 m, rarely as tall as 12 m. The branches tend to arch and droop, forming a tangled mass.
It is not difficult to see how the common names of puzzle bush and deurmekaarbos (untidy or jumbled bush) entered namegiver minds long ago.
Spaced spur-branchlets upon which the leaves grow are seen along the long, curved stems (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Pooley, 1993).