Beilschmiedia tawa is an upright, evergreen tree, which reaches 40–80 ft (12–24 m) high. The thin, leathery, spear-shaped leaves are 2–4 in (5–10 cm) long. The green flowers are minute, summer.
Beilschmiedia has 40 species of trees and shrubs, which are found throughout the tropical Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Two species are endemic to New Zealand. Beilschmiedia tawa is found in lowland forests in North Island, and the north of the South Island. Tawa is the Maori name for this tree.