The stem of Rapanea melanophloeos may be short and twisted or tall and straight, supporting a sparse, narrow or spreading crown. A diameter of 60 cm may be attained. The tree may branch low down as this one planted in the Pretoria National Botanical Garden.
Upper branches are short, thick and somewhat square in section, scarred where leaves and fruit stalks had dropped off.
The bark on main stems and big branches is grey to grey-brown and smooth, covered in raised lenticels in the earlier growth stages. It becomes rough with age, the trunk fluted on large trees.
The wood is pinkish brown, hard and heavy, but fine-grained. It is attractive and durable, used in the manufacture of high quality furniture, even for making violins. The bark is used in traditional medicine (Schmidt, et al, 2002; Coates Palgrave, 2002; Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997).