Crassula barbata grows naturally in the Tankwa Karoo, sometimes referred to as the doringvygieveld, the Cederberg and Ceres, the western extremes of the plant's distribution. It continues southwards to Worcester and eastwards to the Little Karoo as far as Oudtshoorn, as well as Victoria West in the Great Karoo.
The habitat is gravelly slopes among rocks and outcrops in clayey soils, the plants often found growing in the shade of whatever scattered shrubs may be present.
The long white hairs upon the upper leaf margins of the small green rosette make the species easy to identify. The rosettes living at ground level reach a diameter of about 3 cm (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010).