Osyris alba is a semiparasitic (hemiparasitic) broom-like shrub reaching Template:Convert in height.<ref name=Pignatti>Pignatti S. - Flora d'Italia – Edagricole – 1982. Vol. I, pag. 129</ref> The stem is woody, brown or dark green, sometimes creeping on the ground. This plant has numerous longitudinally striated branches, green when young. The leaves are linear, lanceolate, coriaceous, and persistent, although sometimes deciduous. They are about Template:Convert long and Template:Convert wide.<ref name=Pignatti/> They are produced during the winter, while in summer they are almost totally absent.<ref name=Pignatti/> The flowers are hermaphroditic or unisexual; in the latter case, the male and female flowers show differences associated with the timing of pollination. They are very small (1 or 2 mm), with four yellow-green tepals and four stamens. Flowering period extends from March to June.<ref name=Pignatti/> The fruits are small, red, fleshy drupes, Template:Convert in diameter. Their roots form haustoria that tap into the roots of nearby plants and extract their sap.
The species is widespread in all countries of the Mediterranean basin, from Portugal to Turkey. It is present in western Asia and in North Africa from Morocco to Tunisia and Libya.