This was one of the first Astrolobas to be formally discovered. It is mainly defined by its inflated, rugose (wrinkled) flowers, and it is difficult to distinguish from its close relatives Astroloba herrei and smutsiana when not in flower. Like these species, it has glabrous, sharp-pointed, matt-surfaced leaves. In spiralis, the leaves tend to have a slightly straighter, longer shape. Genetic testing and chromosome counts have revealed that this is the only Astroloba species which has a complete extra double-set of chromosomes (tetraploid), ie. double the chromosome count of any other Astroloba.