The stems of Canthium armatum are covered in a rusty brown bark that is initially smooth, becoming grey and roughly fissured with age. Sturdy, straight spines of up to 4 cm long arm the stems in opposite pairs, growing slightly at an angle. The spines may disappear from large stems.
The flowers of this tree appear on spur-branchlets from leaf axils in dense corymbs of about 4 cm in diameter. They are creamy white, bell-shaped with the corolla lobes recurving over the tube and the throat hairy. Each flower has a three-lobed, protruding stigma.
The tree flowers in spring and summer (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997).