The leaves of Olea europaea subsp. africana or the olienhout are opposite and oblong or narrowly lanceolate to elliptic and leathery. Leaf colour varies from grey-green to glossy dark green. Its lower surface is pale yellow or grey with silvery, brown or golden scales. The leaf midrib is indented above. Lateral veining is mostly indistinct. The leaf apex tapers narrowly to a sharp tip. The base tapers into a short petiole. The margin is entire and rolled under.
The bark on the main trunk and big stems are grey-brown to quite dark, fissured, rough and flaking. The small twigs are pale grey and square or four-angled in cross-section.
The wood is sought after for cabinet making. The attraction lies in its durability and good colour contrast between the dark heartwood and paler peripheral sapwood. The wood is hard and heavy, said to be difficult to work and usually yields only small pieces (Schmidt, et al, 2002; Coates Palgrave, 2002; Pooley, 1993).