Cliffortia atrata is a branched, evergreen shrub reaching heights from 30 cm to 90 cm.
The narrow, pointed leaves are soft, green and faintly hairy, clustered at stem-tips on small side-branches. Older wood becomes bare, the bark brown to grey, reddish on young parts gone leafless. The specific name, atrata, is derived from the Latin words atra meaning black and -atus meaning possession or likeness; something about the plant must be blackish.
The species distribution is in the Western Cape from Ceres and the Bokkeveld Mountains to the Cape Peninsula and eastwards to Riversdale, the Langeberg Mountains and the Swartberg Mountains.
The habitat is sandstone mountain slopes covered in fynbos. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; iSpot; Andrew, 2017; www.redlist.sanbi.org).