Vernonia oligocephala is an attractive small shrub with bright purple flowers. The bicoloured-leaved vernonia is an erect, often tufted herbaceous shrublet with flowering branches that develop from a woody rootstock. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, up to 40 mm long, dark green on the upper surface and silvery velvety below. Its bright violet flower heads are about 10 mm long and borne in large clusters towards the branch tips. Flower colour can vary considerably.
Vernonia oligocephala is the most common silver-leafed species indigenous to the southern African grasslands. It is very effective when interplanted with taller grasses.