The outer crimson-brown corolla of Brachystelma barberae forms a continuous, encircling ring around a sunken flat zone that is cream coloured with tiny, irregular, maroon-striped markings.
Enclosed within that flat section resides the central corona of the flower. This curious structure has evolved in some Apocynaceae genera from the base of the corolla or from the staminal column. Coronas may consist of different inner and outer lobe rings of many shapes, sizes and colours. In this corolla five broad-based pale pinkish grey coloured triangular lobes point inwards where smaller, narrow, maroon-coloured structures can be seen.
The putrid smell that detracts from the appeal of the pretty flowers is produced in this central area at the flower base, attracting various flies and other insects.
The above-ground components of the plant are all covered in fine hairs. When damaged the plant tissue exudes a watery sap (Germishuizen and Fabian, 1982; www.plantzafrica.com; Letty, 1962).