Diospyros natalensis is a much-branched shrub or small evergreen tree reaching heights between 6 m and 10 m (SA Tree List No. 607). It is commonly known both as the small-leaved jackal-berry, linking to its tall D. mespiliformis relative and the acorn jackal-berry on account of the green, yellow, orange or red fruit that are ovoid, sharp-tipped and almost halfway enclosed by a cup-shaped calyx. These miniature acorns are borne on the female trees, the species being dioecious.
The flowers are small, white and solitary or in heads of up to three, found from midwinter through spring.
The bark on stems in the photo is smooth and pale grey; it may also become dark. Branches tend to spread horizontally, the young twigs covered in hairs (Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997; Coates Palgrave, 2002).