A sparsely branched shrub to 8 m, sometimes trailing or semi-scandent, young parts uniformly setulose, buds without cataphylls. Leaves in terminal clusters; Inflorescence a terminal compound umbel, often appearing subterminal by growth of a leafy braftch at the base of the peduncle; Stamens 4(-5), filaments ribbon-like elongating beyond the corolla tube at anthesis, 3-4 mm, anthers small. Ovary shortly subcylindric, c. 1 mm high, faintly angled, glabrous, 1-5-, usually 4-celled, disk fleshy, rising slightly to the central stigmas. Fruit an ellipsoid drupe with 1-5 cartilaginous pyrenes;
Asia-Tropical: New Guinea present (Irian Jaya present), Idenburg R present, Milne Bay Distr present
Malesia: New Guinea (Irian Jaya: Idenburg R. to Milne Bay Distr.).
The inflorescence branches are often red or purple, and the flowers either orange or reddish with yellow anthers. The ripe fruits are deep purple or black. The shape and size of the leaf can vary greatly, even on the same plant. The ovary usually has 4 cells, but plants with 3, 2 and 1 occur. Since these are alike in other respects they have been treated as a single species. Although the type of Boerlagiodendron tricolor has an ovary with 5 cells and is from much further west than other gatherings, it is not considered to be specifically distinct.