Ever green to deciduous (depending on growing conditions) small tree or shrub, 2 to 5 m tall with a rounded crown. it is an example of a non-succulent primitive cactus. Its main stem is upright to arching and resembles a woody plant more than a cacti, sometime it form a very spiny woody greys-brown trunk up to 1 meter tall and 10-20 cm in diameter that bears numerose branches. Twigs quite vine-like, fleshy, glabrous and green.Spines: 1 to 8 up to 4 cm long, very sharp, acicular arranged in clusters or spreading but usually absent on new growth. On the older stems and trunk the spine are more robust and numerose (Up to 90) and up to 6,5 cm long. It is however quite variable, some plant have spines, but others have none at all.Leaves: Thick but fleshy, variable in size, elliptic to oblong lanceolate 5-15 cm long, somewhat pointed narrowing toward the base into a short petiole. Venation pinnate and prominent below.Flower: Very shovy rose-like, 3-5 cm in diameter lasting for 2 days, sepals green, petals usually pink or purplish (but also white or tan) in short few flowered terminal panicles, centered by yellow stamens with red filaments, the stigma and style is white. Ovary bearing large leaves.