Even the spindly, young stem of Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica may begin to show the peeling bark characteristic. Persisting on the stem in picture, the flakes are pale and papery, the stem still green.
Rings are formed around the stem at the nodes where the leaves grow. The base of the long leaf petiole wraps around the stem in partly decurrent manner. These marks remain as scars where the leaves drop off from young stems (Coates Palgrave, 2002).