It is a small to medium-sized tree growing to 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with smooth, flaky bark. The leaves are deciduous, oval to elliptic, 8–15 cm (3.1–5.9 in) long and 3–7 cm (1.2–2.8 in) broad, with an acute apex. The flowers are produced in erect panicles 20–40 cm (7.9–15.7 in) long, each flower with six white to purple petals 2–3.5 cm (0.79–1.38 in) long.
Banabá has a long history of folkloric medical applications that include blood pressure control, urinary dysfunctions (helps ease urination), cholesterol level control, treatment of diarrhea, facilitates bowel movement, diabetes and as an analgesic.[unreliable source?] The chemical compounds that have been isolated from the extract include corosolic acid, lager-stroemin, flosin B, and reginin A. The leaves of the Banabá and other parts are used widely in the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan as a tea preparation. Banabá herb is one of the 69 herbal plants promoted by the Philippine Department of Health (DOH).
In Theravada Buddhism, this plant is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by eleventh Lord Buddha called "Paduma - පදුම", and twelewth Lord Buddha "Naarada - නාරද" . The plant is known as මුරුත (Murutha) in Sinhala and "Mahaasona - මහාසොණ" in Sanskrit.