Hoheria lyallii is a deciduous small tree, or large shrub, which grows to 10 ft (3 m) or more. Leaves on young plants are oval, toothed, and 0.8–2.75 in (2–7 cm) long. Leaves on adult plants are broadly oval, green, toothed, and 2–8 in (5–20 cm) long. The white flowers are up to 1.6 in (4 cm) diameter; early summer. It is hardy in the UK.
Hoheria lyallii is found in forests, forest margins and streamsides in subalpine and drier mountains to the east of the South Alps, from Marlborough to Otago, South Island, New Zealand.