The Euphoria gariepina subsp. gariepina shrub grows many strapping branches that spread at the base and turn erect to form a dense and rounded bush of sturdy, fleshy, pale green and leafless stems. More branching occurs higher up on the stems. There are also small, sparsely scattered spine-like dwarf branches on the stems that did not develop.
Leaves last for only a brief period near stem tips in the growth season, dropping off and leaving small marks at the nodes. All parts of the plant will exude the often toxic milky latex found in Euphorbia when damaged.
Apart from E. gariepina subsp. gariepina there is another subspecies, viz. E. gariepina subsp. balsamea that is endemic to the Kaokoland in Namibia and southern Angola.