A slow-growing, small tree with very large heads of red flowers which hang beneath the foliage. The leaflets are aristate, having an elongated apex. Young leaves are mottled pale pink and greenish white, turning pinkish brown and finally uniformly green as they mature. The pods are velvety, and propagation is from seeds. Brownea grandiceps is recognisable from its long pinnate leaves with 12-18 pairs of leaflets and the pendulous bunches of young leaves are pale green, splashed and mottled in a reddish brown. The spotted handkerchieves are impressive enough, but the inflorescences are even more of a sight - dense, salmon-pink balls of 20 cm or more across.