Plants shrubs or trees, 1-4(-10) m tall, without spines; branches green, turning brownish without distinct lenticels, glabrous. Leaves alternate; petioles 3-8 mm long; blades 2.5-8 cm long, 1.3-4 cm wide, elliptic, ovate, oblong, obovate, or oblanceolate, bases cuneate to subcordate, margins crenate to serrate, tips rounded to retuse. Cymes 4-15 mm long, glabrous, clustered; peduncles usually absent, rarely 1(-2) mm long; pedicels 2-9 mm long. Flowers 3.2-6.5 mm in diameter, bisexual; sepals 5, 0.5-1.8 mm long, 1-2.5 mm wide, ovate, with entire to slightly toothed margins; petals 5, 2-4 mm long, 1.7-2.8 mm wide, broadly elliptic to obovate or oblanceolate; stamens 5, about as long as the ovaries; ovaries usually 3-celled, sometimes 2-celled by abortion; disks flat to concave 5-10-lobed. Capsules green to purple-green or yellow, trigonous, obovoid, 5-7 mm long glabrous; seeds 2-3, brown to orange-brown, glossy, one half to completely covered by thin, white to orange, arils.
Maytenus undata grows in bushland adjacent to riverine forests, Acacia-Commiphora bushland, the edge of Buxus scrub, mixed evergreen bushland, and on rockly limestone slopes at 30-1100 m in regions N1-3, C1, and S3 of the Flora of Somlia. It is also widespread in tropical and southern Africa, Yemen, Comoro Island, and Madagascar.
Plants trees or shrubs with leathery, glabrous, simple leaves having crenate or serrate margins and producing capsules that aer green to purple-green or yellow.
It is very rare to come across this plant in Somaliland. It used to be found in mountain forests among rocks and boulders. There is a lone tree in Laas Geel Rock Art Site (55 km outside Hargeisa) that has taken refuge in a rock crevice.
A concoction from its root is believed to have healing properties such as managing stomach troubles. It is also used as forage and animal feed, particularly during dry season. Its red wood is heavy and used for making spoons (fandhaal) and wooden combs (sagaf/fidhin). It also makes excellent firewood. Elsewhere, for example in South Africa and many other tropical countries, it has been domesticated for use as an ornamental plant and as lived hedge.
In November 2021, the IUCN liisted Maytenus undata as "LC" meaning it is of least concern. Despite this, its decreasing abundance is considered to be a matter of concent to Somaliland farmers and pastoralists.