Euphorbia ledienii has stem colour variations, some paler and darker than this plant. The number of stem ribs or ridges varies between seven and four, rarely three. The cyathia or false flowers are small and greenish yellow, appearing in winter and spring. The fruits are lobed. The plant branches freely from the base and may grow to a 2 m tall shrub.
The sturdy spine pairs have distinctively angled positions, pointing downwards, although they are not as conspicuous on all specimens. Spine colouring starts off greenish on the stem tops where the young ones emerge, turning dark red as they mature and grey when they dry out on the lower stem parts. Spines on Euphorbia change colour with age almost as hair on humans.
E. ledienii var ledienii and E. ledienii var. dregei are the two recognised varieties of this plant (www.cactus-art.biz; Smith, et al, 1997).