This palm has a creeping, subterranean trunk and a cluster of up to thirty leaves which form an impressive erect tussock. Each leaf, to 6 meter tall, has a slender, thorny petiole to 2.5 meter long and a large, dark green, diamond-shaped blade which is prominently ribbed and with coarsely toothed margins.
The white flowers have a sour smell and the corkey fruit, about 4 cm across, are brown when ripe. This palm is well known in the area where it grows because the large fronds provide an excellent shelter in a sudden downpour. They are also ideal for thatching huts. Cultivated on a limited scale but becoming more widely grown.