Asparagus aethiopicus is a branching, perennial climber, 2–3 m high, with firm, woody stems which are armed with short, 10–12 mm long, hard, recurved spines. Young stems are twining and ribbed, becoming woody, smooth and pale. The root system is rhizomatous, with many long roots forming bulbous tubers and a mat of fibrous roots, from which new stems may resprout. The leaves are not true leaves but are actually leaf-like cladodes (modified flattened stem), which are 10–40 mm long and 1.0–1.5 mm wide, and arise in groups of 4–6 from the stem. Cladodes are terete (cylindrical in cross section) or ridged, tipped with a short, sharp point and usually grey-green. The flowers are small, white, star-like and fragrant, 3–5 mm long and arise in clusters off the stem, mainly in summer to winter (Jan.–Jun.). Flowers are followed by small, rounded berries 5 mm in diameter, which bear a black, 3 mm diameter seed. Initially green, the berries turn red when mature in spring to early summer (Aug.–Nov.).