Cotyledon velutina grows tall to see sun in the Albany thicket vegetation. “Stretching its legs” with the best of them, the stem-tip clusters of blue-grey leaves are present at the top in the multi-species canopy, often 3 m tall. It produces inflorescences of yellow and copper, bell-shaped flowers, sometimes with a little green or red.
The elongated stems, brittle and succulent, deliver their leaves and seasonal flowers at the top with aid from strong-stemmed surrounding shrubs that bring stability. A "little help from its friends" ensures the stability for withstanding the winds of the region, while the thorny neighbours also serve to keep destructive browsers at bay. C. orbiculata is similar but does not reach the heights of C. velutina.