Melaleuca elliptica is a shrub with pale grey, papery bark that peels in thin strips. Its leaves are arranged in alternating pairs (decussate), each pair at right angles to the ones above and below so that there are four rows of leaves along the stems. The leaves are elliptic to egg-shaped with the ends usually rounded.
Melaleuca elliptica can withstand salt winds in dry coastal areas and makes a good screen against salt spray. It is drought and frost hardy to about 20 degrees F. once established and can hold up to salt laden winds along the coast, making it a good first exposure screen to protect other plants in beachside plantings.