This tree grows to 7 to 18 m on average and is easily recognizable by its wide, dense crown. In Colombia, it sometimes reaches 30 m tall. It has aerial roots.
Its thick, firm opposite leaves are 9 to 15 cm long and have a stalk 1 to 2 cm long.
The pitch apple is polygamous, meaning that it produces various types of flowers. Some trees bear both sexes, while others bear only male or female flowers. Its terminal flowers resemble those of magnolia and combine the two sexes. They have 4 to 6 rounded sepals and 6 to 8 white or pink petals 1 to 4 cm long. The male flowers are made up of large numbers of stamens. The outer stamens are fertile and form a ring at their base, while the inner stamens are sterile and form a resinous mass.
The stamens of the female flowers form a tuft. The fruit is rounded and greenish.