This is a large tree with a horny bark, feathery leaves and pale yellow to white spherical flowers. It is an entheogen used in healing ceremonies and rituals. The beans (sometimes called seeds) and falling leaves are hallucinogenic and are toxic to cattle. This plant is almost identical to that of a related tree, Anadenanthera colubrina, commonly known as Cebíl or Vilca. The beans of A. colubrina have a similar chemical makeup as Anadenanthera peregrina, with their primary constituent being bufotenin.
The tree is also a well known source of dietary calcium.