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. The flowers in this plant blooms only once in a year at the peak of summer.
In Theravada Buddhism, this plant is said to have been used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by the eleventh Lord Buddha ("Paduma - පදුම"), and the twelfth Lord Buddha ("Naarada - නාරද") . The plant is known as මුරුත (Murutha) in Sinhala and "Mahaasona - මහාසොණ" in Sanskrit.