Pandanus palms, these plants are not closely related to palm trees. The species vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 m, to medium-sized trees 20 m tall, typically with a broad canopy, heavy fruit, and moderate growth rate. The trunk is stout, wide-branching, and ringed with many leaf scars. Mature plants can have branches. Depending on the species, the trunk can be smooth, rough, or warty.
The roots form a pyramidal tract to hold the trunk. They commonly have many thick stilt roots near the base, which provide support as the tree grows top-heavy with leaves, fruit, and branches. These roots are adventitious and often branched. The top of the plant has one or more crowns of strap-shaped leaves that may be spiny, varying between species from 30 cm to 2 m or longer, and from 1.5 cm up to 10 cm broad. the fruit changes from green to bright orange or red as it matures. The fruits can stay on the tree for more than 12 months.