A spreading tree up to 40 m (130 ft) tall, Vesi is undoubtedly one of the most highly valued trees in the Pacific islands, both in terms of its traditional cultural importance and its value for commercial timber. Its durable, easy-to-work, attractive dark red-brown wood is especially favored for use in house building, furniture, and woodcarving. The tree was so extensively exploited in Southeast Asia for its timber that few natural stands remain.
Vesi has a wide range of environmental and climatic tolerances. It prefers wet, hot climates but can tolerate annual dry seasons. The tree occurs most frequently in coastal and lowland forest on well drained or swampy sites. It is also found in tropical rainforest, in primary or old secondary forests, and in open forests. The species also occurs in wet ground on the inner edge of coastal mangrove swamps.