Small, evergreen or deciduous, unisexual tree, rarely up to 20 m tall, exuding poisonous white latex from all broken surfaces. Grows on both muddy and stony soil, with its roots spreading. It requires freshwater input for a large part of the year and is commonly found on the landward margin of mangroves.
Trees bear either male or female flowers, never both. Male flowers start as upright narrow cones when young and as they develop, elongate into longer spikes (5-10cm) that eventually form drooping yellow tassels. Male flowers are said to be "very scented". Female flowers appear in shorter spikes.
Contact with skin can cause irritation and rapid blistering; contact with eyes will result in temporary blindness.