Plants shrubs or trees. Stems usually densely pubescent. Leaves clustered on older branches, simple; petioles 1-5 mm long; blades 10-40 mm long, 7-22 mm wide, oblanceolate to obovate, pubescent, midribs conspicuous on the lower surface, tip usually obtuse and mucronulate. Inflorescences of solitary flowers or 2-4-flowered clusters. Flowers:pedicels 2-10 mm long; receptacle 4-7 mm long, cylindrical; sepals (3-)4, 4-12 mm long; petals absent; androgynophores as long as the receptacle or exceeding it by up to 4 mm; stamens 20-40; gynophore 8-20 mm long, often recurved in fruit; ovary 2-4 mm long, narrowly cylindrical. Fruit 2.5-7 mm long, 0.3-0.6 mm in diameter, torulose, pubescent, usually several seeded.
Maerua crassifolia grows in Acacia-Commiphora bushland and semi-desrt scrub at 20-100 m. It is known from regions N1 and N2 of Somaliland and regions N3, C1, C2 and S1-S3 of Somalia. Its range extends from Senegal and Morocco east through the Arabian peninula to western Asia.
The species is highly valued and vulnerable to overgrazing.