Cestrum nocturnum is an evergreen woody shrub growing to 4 m (13 ft) tall. The leaves are simple, narrow lanceolate, 6–20 cm (2.4–7.9 in) long and 2–4.5 cm (0.79–1.77 in) broad, smooth and glossy, with an entire margin. The flowers are greenish-white, with a slender tubular corolla 2–2.5 cm (0.79–0.98 in) long with five acute lobes, 10–13 mm (0.39–0.51 in) diameter when open at night, and are produced in cymose inflorescences.
A powerful, sweet perfume is released at night. The fruit is a berry 10 millimetres (0.39 in) long by 5 mm (0.20 in) diameter, either marfil white or the colour of an aubergine. There is also a variety of yellowish flowers. There are mixed reports regarding the toxicity of foliage and fruit.