Muraltia spinosa is a variable, much branched and rounded shrub that grows to 1 m in height. Spiny tips grow on the numerous stiff stems. These stem-tip spines have brought the plant the specific name of spinosa.
The species does not resprout after veld fires, growing from the seeds produced in great numbers inside the many fleshy fruits. Seeds are often efficiently distributed by obliging fruit consumers, attracted by the conspicuous red or orange colouring. These hungry parties include birds like ostriches, mammals such as antelope and baboons, as well as people. The Afrikaans common name of skilpadbessie (tortoise berry) indicates yet another user.
The distribution of M. spinosa covers much of the Western Cape, in addition to a more coastal presence in Namaqualand and the Eastern Cape. This profusely flowering specimen was seen at Kagga Kamma in September.
The habitat is sandy flats or loamy soil on rocky slopes in fynbos, succulent Karoo and grassland. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; Manning, 2007; www.plantzafrica.com; http://redlist.sanbi.org).