Grewia occidentalis is an evergreen to semi-deciduous tree that can reach a mature height of 10m in its natural habitat where growing conditions are favourable. In gardens, it can reach a mature height of about 3m. This tree is common in a wide variety of habitats from arid Karoo, coastal dune bush to evergreen montane forests.
The Cross-berry is characterised with a smooth grey-brown bark. Leaves are simple and alternate, light green and thinly textured but smooth. The leaves are also shiny and have veins showing from the base. Grewia occidentalis produces pink to mauve flowers in summer (from October to January). These beautiful blooms which attract bees and butterflies are followed by green berries which ripen to a brownish colour. The berries remain on the tree for long periods and are edible to both animals and humans.
Although the Cross-berry can be untidy and straggly if left to grow naturally, it responds well to clipping and can develop a dense branching system. This frost and drought resistant tree makes a beautiful plant in the garden. It tolerates both full sun and semi-shade conditions. The root system of the Grewia occidentalis is non-aggressive, this makes it ideal for planting near buildings and paving. It is also a beautiful screening plant for a larger garden.