Aloe plicatilis can grow to a height of 3–5 metres (9.8–16.4 ft) tall. The trunk has corky, fire-resistant bark and the branches fork into pairs without a central leader, a pattern known as “dichotomous” branching. The branches bear masses of succulent, oblong, tongue-shaped leaves arranged in 2 opposite rows in the shape of a fan. To the imaginative, the leaf-heads look a bit like a mass of grey hands, raised in the air.
The leaves are grey-green in colour, about 300 mm long and 40 mm wide, and have tiny teeth along the margins that are noticeable only on close inspection.
At the end of winter (August to October) the plants appear to burst into flames as they suddenly produce masses of bright pink flowers.