Berkheya cuneata has velvety grey leaves, obovate and angularly kite-like. The sessile, stalkless leaves are alternately positioned on the sturdy whitish stems. Leaf dimensions are about 4 cm by 2 cm, excluding the sparsely distributed and long, marginal spines. The spine-toothed leaf margins are usually rolled under.
In the photo some spent flowerheads are also to be seen, devoid by now of their flowering stage yellow colouring. Several of these rosettes of long, pointed bracts remain in position here above the leaves. The creamy buff involucral bracts have spiny margins like the leaves, but differ in being narrow, while the leaves are broad and angular near their tips. In another photo of B. cuneata shown here, the bracts have already turned brown from drying out.
Descriptive local names for this plant include the Afrikaans flenniebos (flannel bush), vaalbietou (grey bietou) and vaaldissel (grey thistle). Some of these names are shared with other plant species, typical of the re-use of generally known names by parochial societies to identify things they observe in the local environment (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; Manning, 2009).