The leaves of Celtis africana are alternate, ovate and variably hairy. When the leaves are not soft and hairy, the tree may be an introduced exotic specimen, a different Celtis, also found in South Africa today.
C. africana leaves are notably three-veined from the base. The leaf tip attenuates, then ends abruptly. The base is lobed or rounded, often asymmetric in shape. The leaf margin is fairly regularly toothed along its upper parts, entire near the base. The leaf stalk is quite short.
The leaves change colour from bright or fresh green to dark green and eventually yellow as they age. This happens annually as the tree is deciduous in its inland habitat. At the coast the leaves do not always fall annually, the tree described as semi-deciduous.
The fresh green foliage presented in spring makes all the sweeping in autumn worthwhile. Gardeners do need the material for making compost (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002).