African bowstring hemp is a stemless evergreen perennial plant, producing succulent, erect, rigid leaves 15 - 85cm or more long and 25 - 80mm wide from a freely-spreading, rhizomatous rootstock. The leaves can be up to 1.2 metres long. The flowering stem grows 45 - 75cm or more tall.The plant is gathered from the wild for the fibre obtained from its leaves. This is used locally. The plant is cultivated as a fibre crop in some parts of the tropics, especially tropical America, and is also often grown as an ornamental
It can be invasive outside Southern Africa.