The white candlewood, as Pterocelastrus echinatus is commonly known, is typically a shrub of 2 m, occasionally a tree of 5 m. The leaves are lanceolate, elliptic or ovate. Leaf surfaces are leathery, hairless, deep green above and paler below. Leaf apices taper or are notched, the bases taper. Leaf margins are entire, sometimes rolled under.
The fruits are three-lobed capsules with a distinct ridge and spiky horn on each lobe. Echinatus means armed with prickles or spines, referring only to the fruits. The surface of the fruit is covered in a waxy bloom. These fruits become orange, red and sometimes brown when ripening. This happens in autumn and winter (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002).