The trunk of Maytenus oleoides is pale grey-brown to ashen grey. The bark is corky and rough from vertical grooves that also split transversally to form patches, sometimes close to rectangular in shape. The lower bark tends to become thicker, which comes in handy as protection in veld fires.
Young upper branches are often reddish. Coppice shoots are common at the base of the trunk.
Members of the Maytenus genus are without spines, their fruits lacking the characteristic points found on fruits of Pterocelastrus species. Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus that has four-angled upper stems is easily confused with this tree when there are no flowers or fruits present (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2015; Coates Palgrave, 2002).