A leafy, compact evergreen, guayacan rarely grows higher than 6 feet, though under favorable conditions it may grow twice that high. It is often darker than surrounding shrubs, due to the stems being covered with dark green leaves. Leaves are pinnately compound, with 4-8 pairs of small, leathery leaflets. Flowers, which have 5 petals, are violet to purple, 1 inch across, with prominent yellow anthers. The blossom is followed by small, heart-shaped pods that burst open at maturity, exposing 2 scarlet-red, shiny seeds. The bark of the roots is sometimes used as soap for washing woolen goods, as it does not fade colors. Guayacan is also a good honeybee plant. It does best at elevations below 4,000 feet.